The Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Board has made recommendations for upcoming park projects and are expected to soon have a meeting with county commissioners.
The parks board discussed upcoming developments, land acquisitions and renovations for parks at a meeting on Wednesday evening. Estimated costs for all projects discussed was $11.8 million for projects on the Big Creek Greenway, $193 million for new development and land acquisition and $40.3 million for renovations and improvements to recent parks.
Parks Director Jim Pryor said the projects were part of a comprehensive plan that totaled $347 million over the next 15 years.
“We are, as the parks department, tasked with $347 million in parks projects over a long period, but what goes first?” Pryor said. “Do we buy land or do we build on the land that we already have or do we renovate stuff or build new stuff? Those are kind of the big questions when you talk about, ‘What are the priorities?’”
Of the new developments, the top priority projects are the development of Denmark Park at a cost of $12 million, Phase 4 master plan and development of Sawnee Mountain Preserve for $1 million, Phase 2 of Lanierland for $11 million and the Matt Community Park Recreation Center for $16 million.
Following those projects are land acquisitions for planned Eastern, Western and Northern community parks – at $7.5 million each – and development of those parks for about $12 million apiece.
Pryor said after the meeting the land for those developments had not yet been identified but were going to go in areas where there was a gap in service as determined by the comprehensive plan.
Other new development projects include new phases of existing parks, a community recreation center at Lanierland, green space for a new passive park, an arts center and aquatics facility in south Forsyth and acquisition, development and a recreation center for 210 acres currently used by the county’s water and sewer department near the South Forsyth Soccer Complex.
Projects for the greenway are Phase 5 development and a trailhead, paid for with previous park bond funds, for $6.8 million and another $5 million for renovations and improvements, which will be funded by a previous, special 1-cent sales tax, SPLOST V.
Pryor noted costs had risen significantly for Phase 5 of the greenway since $3.5 million was approved as part of the bond approved by voters in 2008.
For the renovations, the most pressing items were determined to be a master plan and renovations for Bennett Park for $8.8 million, a master plan and renovation for Sharon Springs Park for $8.8 million, $1.3 million for Midway Park improvements, $43.3 million for Sawnee Mountain Park renovations and $2.6 million for Coal Mountain Park improvements.
Current funds for the projects are below expected costs, with a total of $9 million approved for greenway projects, about $45 million for new development and land acquisitions and $24.5 million for renovations.
The plan now goes to Forsyth County Commissioners, and there is expected to be a special called meeting of both boards.