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Commission split over recreation centers in south
Bids delayed until at least winter
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Forsyth County News
Forsyth County Commissioner Brian Tam couldn’t walk out of the meeting, so he hung up.

Tam, who participated in Tuesday’s commission meeting by phone, was not happy that his colleagues aren’t ready to find out how much it will cost to build two recreation centers in south Forsyth.

It was not clear why Tam did not attend the meeting in person.

The discussion grew heated after Commissioner Jim Harrell made a motion to postpone until February the bidding process on the centers.

The county wants to build one center as part of Fowler Park at Hwy. 9 and Castleberry Road and the a second on the Buice property at Nichols and Old Atlanta roads.

The board approved design funding for both projects in July.

Tam pointed out that the centers wouldn’t open until 2011. The bids, he said, are a “no brainer.”

“The board approved the projects, now we need to find out how much they’re going to cost,” he said.

Commissioner Patrick Bell agreed.

“I think everybody knows that I’m not entirely sold that this is the time to do this,” Bell said. “But I think it’d save time if we could get the information on how much it is going to cost us and then make a decision on whether we’re going to move forward.”

He also sided with Tam when he described not finding out the cost as “further obstruction.”

Harrell said the commission doesn’t have the money to operate the centers. He and Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse agreed that bidding the projects would be a waste of construction companies’ time and effort.

After more argument, the commission voted 3-2, with Tam and Bell dissenting, to end the debate.

It then voted the same way on Harrell’s measure to hold off. Tam subsequently hung up.

The meeting continued, though it was not long before Ken Jarrard, county attorney, pointed out that the vote to stop the discussion did not pass because it failed to garner a majority vote.

At that point, the commission called Tam back.

During that conversation, he asked Harrell and Commissioner Jim Boff if the real reason for the delay was because “we don’t know if we’ll have the money to buy the golf course.”

Though he did not specify which site he was talking about, the county has paid at least $24,000 over the past year to have Lanier Golf Course appraised several times.

It remains unclear whether the county is interested in the site as green space or a golf course.

Tam continued to press the issue, and Bell again agreed with him.

“Gentlemen I think you’re both out of order,” Laughinghouse said. “There’s not an issue of a golf course before this board, Mr. Tam.”

The commission again took up the measure to postpone their decision, and, as before, Tam and Bell disagreed with the rest of the group.

Tam did not participate in the rest of the meeting, but said he’d talk with staff and watch the video online to find out what else happened.