NORTHEAST FORSYTH — A former popular country music venue in northeastern Forsyth soon will become the county’s newest park.
Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for Lanierland Park, which will be on the site of the former music park of the same name.
The venue closed in 2006, and the county bought the land in 2009.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills was formerly general manager of Lanierland, where her father was a partner. During the ceremony, she shared fond memories of that time.
“The happiness that this place gave will always be a part of those people’s lives,” Mills said. “But this land … will still keep giving. It will still keep giving for all those children, it will still keep giving to their children and it will still keep giving joy.”
Covering 109 acres, Lanierland Park is set to include four rectangular synthetic turf fields, concessions, picnic pavilions and a playground.
Construction will be handled by Reeves Young for about $9.2 million and should take about 10 months.
The project will be funded through impact fees and 2008 voter-approved parks, recreation and green space bond.
Taylor Samples, whose family owned the land, told those in attendance that the new park would carry on the family’s legacy.
“If any of you knew Kathleen and Crant Samples in any capacity, I think you realize pretty quick how they loved people, how they loved to interact with people” he said.
“I believe land that we’re standing on is an extension of that. It’s an extension of the love they had for this community, the people in this community and how they were willing to do whatever it was to help this community.”
In its heyday, Lanierland attracted some of the biggest names in country music, with speakers at the ceremony mentioning The Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams Jr. and Lee Greenwood, among others.
The new park will also be home to some of the sports currently held at Bennett Park, particularly those needing a square field.
Tony Failla, president of youth football at Bennett, debuted a new helmet and jersey for teams that will play there beginning in 2017.
Chuck Smith, who serves on the board for the North Forsyth Lacrosse youth program, which will also be moving to Lanierland, wants to help preserve the site’s musical history.
“I thought of things that we could do to help preserve this place,” Smith said. “And one of the things that came to mind is all of you people who have pictures of when it was a country music mecca to come to, get those together. We’ll find a way to put those in a format to put them on a display here.”
Other speakers at the event included: Parks Director Jim Pryor; District 51 state Sen. Steve Gooch; District 5 Commissioner Todd Levent; Polly Tennies, principal of nearby Chestatee Elementary; and Gary Cooper, parks board member for the district.