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Board taps firm to lead hunt for green space
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners have chosen a consulting firm to help them find and acquire properties to be used as green space as part of a $100 million bond approved by voters in February.

The decision came at a work session Tuesday in which county staff and the commission agreed that Lawrenceville-based Lose & Associates would be the best fit to help the county use $36 million to acquire green space.

"If you're looking for one of the consultants to be involved and engaged with the commission and the community, then Lose and Associates is the one that would be engaged the most with those groups," said Doug Derrer, deputy county manager.

County Manager Rhonda O'Connor agreed.

"Lose has worked a lot with the infrastructure in our park system already," she said.

Commissioner Brian Tam made the motion to employ the consulting firm for a fee not to top $100,000.

The firm will help the county rank property, negotiate with property owners, write grants and coordinate with the county's geographic information services department.

Commissioner Charles Laughinghouse offered an amendment that would have limited Lose to developing criteria and weighting in the green space search, and letting the GIS department map the properties. The motion was not seconded.

Tam's motion passed without opposition, and his words hinted at frustration.

"We've been doing this for almost six months," he said. "This is just silly. It should have been done the second week of February."

The commission has been interviewing four consulting firms for several months, requesting price quotes and explanations of services.

Commissioners also have spoken with the GIS department to determine in what internal capacity the staff can help.

All firms, including Lose, pledged to work with department staff in mapping acquired properties.

Most recently, three of the four consulting firms submitted a pricing review that broke down the costs for their individual services. Trust for Public Land declined to do so, Derrer said, because the company has had to reduce staff.

Lose included in its review one additional service that the other firms, MACTEC and Pond and Co., did not. It offered to organize five informational public meetings for the county.

Lose also is handling the construction planning for Fowler Park. Officials presented an update to the commission Tuesday. Planning is 75 percent complete for the site, which will feature multiple sport fields, a running track and skate park, among other amenities.