A new passive park in northwest Forsyth will make it easier for visitors to access and enjoy the Etowah River.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held by Forsyth County officials on Monday morning for the new Eagle’s Beak Park, located at 8420 Old Federal Road. The 226-acre park offers a kayak and canoe launch, 1.5 miles of nature trail, picnic tables and a restroom area.
“This is thrilling to see this boat launch come to fruition,” said Diane Minick, watershed director for the Upper Etowah River Alliance, which has stakeholders in Cherokee, Forsyth, Pickens, Dawson and Lumpkin counties.
“The nice thing is, is that at Paddle Georgia (which in June held a seven-day, 106-mile trip down the Etowah), we had between 300-400 paddlers on the river a lot of the time. One of the things they said was this was the most beautiful river they had ever seen, and nobody knows about it hardly.”
A passive park means it is intended for visitors to enjoy trails and nature instead of an active park, which would have amenities like fields or recreation centers.
The park was built with funds from the Parks, Recreation and Green Space Bond approved by voters in 2008 and SPLOST VI. The majority of the land was purchased in 2009 using bond funds.
“We’ve had a lot of ceremonies like this recently, and it shows how blessed we are in Forsyth County to have the dedication and the commitment to quality of life for the citizens of the county to building these parks and providing the diversity of the types of parks we have,” Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor said.
Matt Pate, natural resources manager for the parks department, said local scout Will Touchstone built the park’s picnic tables as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Eagle’s Beak was designed by Amec Foster Wheeler, and construction was done by Tri Scapes Inc., for $1,367,460.
Quinn Martin, CEO of Tri-Scapes, said the project ran into issues with the soil and took some redesigning.
Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent thanked former District 2 Commissioner Brian Tam, who was in attendance, the local community and county staff for making the park a reality.
“Take a moment to listen how quiet this is,” he said. “It reminds me as a kid … when you used to camp or you went to camp for the summer. You wake up in the morning, and it has this kind of a feel to it.”
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, who represents the area, said the new park shows the county’s commitment to health and wellness.
“We never dreamed, growing up as a girl at Matt on that one little ball field … you would not dream that one day we would have a park that would be able to have a canoe launch, so I come with a grateful heart just to that we would even be able to provide something like that and that we would become a county that supports recreation beyond ball fields.”
Patty Grogan Clark, whose family previously owned the land, said they had many offers to buy the land and that she is happy with the result.
“I am so glad that we held onto it,” she said, “and it didn’t turn in to a subdivision or any of that.”