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Fowler takes shape
Park set to open in 2011
Fowler Skate Park 2 es
Hollyday looks out over the 90-acre construction site. - photo by Emily Saunders
The much-anticipated Fowler Park in southwestern Forsyth County is scheduled to open in January.

“I think it’ll be full the day we open it,” said Jerry Kinsey, director of parks and recreation.

Among other features, the park will include six recreation fields, a skate park, 12 tennis courts, dog park with agility equipment, walking trails and sand volleyball area.

Work began late last summer, though heavy rains in the fall pushed the project behind a bit, Kinsey said.

Most of the 80 acres have been cleared, though only some curbs around parking spaces and the large bowls of the skate park are recognizable.

Renowned designer Wally Hollyday planned the skate area, and he’ll be in a hard hat for the next three or four months doing the dirty work as well.

“I tried it the other way, where I sit home and worry,” Hollyday said from atop a backhoe Wednesday afternoon.

His design for the skate park, the first in the county, has two basic sections and areas of influence: swimming pools and downtown architecture.

While more governments are looking into parks as a designated place for children to skate, Hollyday said they may not realize such areas often become community centers that teens can use all the time.

He anticipates this happening in Forsyth, since the county will allow free access.

The skate park, which he said will be the largest in the area, was designed with community input from 2008 meetings.

“I do expect this to be my best skate park I’ve ever done,” he said.

Hollyday said while he is also involved in other north Georgia skate park projects, this one will have a great deal of regional draw.

“This is probably the most important area to me in the country, because as much as people talk about the economic problems they’re having here, this is an area that’s still doing things,” Hollyday said.

“You still have growth, you still have large parks like this going in.”

Kinsey added that Fowler will be nearly large enough to be considered a regional park.

The park is in Commissioner Jim Harrell’s district.

“It’ll be a great addition to this area, for all the folks in District 3 for sure,” Harrell said.

He said its opening likely will also relieve much of the parking woes for the nearby Big Creek Greenway multi-use trail.

On busy weekends, vehicles often line roads or neighborhoods near the trail. Fowler will offer access to the greenway and, perhaps more importantly, 1,200 parking spaces.

Fowler may also include a recreation center in the future, though Harrell said the county must determine when it will have the funding to operate one.

With talk beginning to circulate for the 2011 county budget, questions about funding to keep Fowler running have begun.

“It’ll take more money to keep it open also, so that’s a challenge we face in the next eight months,” Kinsey said.

The construction costs, however, are covered.

Funding for the $12 million project, which is being handled by Hardin Construction, comes from the $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond, as well as impact fees.