A new park in northwest Forsyth is one step closer to becoming a reality, per a vote by the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation board Wednesday evening.
At the board’s regular meeting Aug. 2, Jim Pryor, Parks and Recreation Department director, presented Wildcat Creek Park’s site master plan to board members, who voted unanimously to send the rendering to the Board of Commissioners for approval.
If the BOC approves the plan, they will then send the design to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what Pryor said begins a long journey to final approval and subsequent construction.
Park Project updates
Chattahoochee Pointe Park
Parks and Recreation is having “major water issues” with the park’s trails, which wash out every time there is a big rainstorm. Director Jim Pryor said when planners initially constructed the park, Forsyth County had been in a 12-month drought and could not anticipate the paths would wash out. He said they will add footbridges over the wet areas.
Eagle’s Beak Park
The park is complete, with a ribbon cutting scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7 at 10:30 a.m.
Windermere Dog Park
When the dog park was first constructed, it was done as an “afterthought,” Pryor said. Parks and Rec is updating and improving the area and will add new fencing, amenities and other improvements.
The 28-acre parcel of land, which sits in at the end of Crystal Cove Trail on Lake Lanier, is one of six the Corps gave the county property rights to several years ago, Pryor said.
“The [agreement was] the county could determine whether they wanted the property as a park or not, and in doing so, the county would have to do a master plan for the park, send it to the Army Corps of Engineers for approval, do an environmental assessment on the property and then do the construction plans for the developer,” he said. “This would initiate a 25-year renewable land lease option, so the Corps would own the property and the county would have a land lease on that.
“At this point, none of the parcels have been developed so Commissioner [Cindy Jones] Mills — this is in her district — took the lead and said she wanted to do some community meetings, hire a company and do the site master plan to start the project rolling.”
Pryor said he, Mills and a “steering committee” have been working on developing the site plan for about two years.
If approved by BOC, construction would likely not begin for another two years, due to the Corps’ review process taking at least a year.
Though the park, which is surrounded by water on three sides, would not have a public swimming area or public boat launches, it could have an educational boat dock on its south end, Pryor said.
“We are looking into working with the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper,” said board Chairman Gary Cooper. “They have an educational boat that usually takes out about 20 people, and we’re looking at partnering with them for some lake and nature programs.”
Mills said the “floating classroom” — the Riverkeeper’s term for the boat — is the least concrete aspect of the plan, however, and may not even come to fruition.
Still, the park would have a nature center with both internal and external restrooms, a warming kitchen for events and an office for a sheriff’s deputy to make the area community centric.
Pryor said the office would not be a precinct or sub-station; rather, it would be a place “where we can have a police presence in the park during the day.”
The parking lot, which would not be paved, would have a total of 43 parking spaces, three of which would be bus lanes for schools to bring children into the park.
Several picnic pavilions would double as outdoor classrooms, and with the nature center and possible boat, Cooper said there is a real opportunity for outdoor education at Wildcat Creek.
In total, the project is slated to cost about $2.9 million.
“With land becoming so expensive with our population growing, it just makes sense to work with Corps on this park,” Mills said. “Of [the six parcels], this one has the best access and it was manageable.
“When we got the community together, we really tried to listen and find a happy medium. The park won’t make everybody happy, but it would help the youth tremendously in that area and we want now, more than ever, to put our parks everywhere throughout the county.”