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New park makes debut next month
Jerry Kinsey, Forsyth County Parks and Recreation director, gives a tour Tuesday of Fowler Park, slated to open next month. - photo by Autumn McBride

From skylights in the pavilions to stone corners adorning the walkways, Fowler Park has a distinct look from other Forsyth County parks.

That’s what Jerry Kinsey, director of parks and recreation, said with pride as he toured the county’s newest park, set to open in mid-February.

“As we built each one of them, we added a little bit more flare and dressed it up a little,” Kinsey said.

Fowler Park, on Hwy. 9 near Castleberry Road, was scheduled to open this month. Wet weather at the start of the project had other ideas, making it difficult to meet that deadline.

The park’s design and construction were funded by the county’s $100 million parks, recreation and green space bond, which is money set aside for those purposes.

The 85-acre property, comparable to Central Park in size, boasts new features and amenities not available at other county recreation sites.

A skate park, designed by the renowned Wally Hollyday, will be the county’s first.

The bowls, rails and ramps are ready for wheels to roll, but skaters will have to wait for the park’s opening day.

Kinsey said he expects the skate park to stay busy, like others in the region.

On a recent trip to Athens, he said he saw about 15 children using a skate park “and it was freezing outside.”

Alongside the skate area will be the newest trailhead to the county’s Big Creek Greenway multi-use trail, which Kinsey said has been incredibly popular.

This new access point will provide additional parking spaces near the trail and allow people to walk to Fowler.

That path will open shortly after the park. The construction, having started later, will take additional time, Kinsey said.

The park will also add more space for athletics. Among them: a track; four baseball fields; six courts each for basketball and tennis; and six soccer/lacrosse fields.

The baseball/softball complex welcomes visitors with a baseball etched in concrete at the entrance.

Two of the fields drop down for better viewing and all will have a system for announcements and shared concession stand.

“There will be lots of ball played here,” said Kinsey, adding that the county hopes to play host to several tournaments.

About the time the park opens, United Futbol Academy plans to use the one artificial turf field as part of its all-turf tournament, which is set to take place at several locations.

The artificial fields are a great asset for soccer players because they reduce the risk of injury from wet weather or bumps in the field, said Linda Ebert, UFA communications director.

“Having a turf field means you can have a year-round experience,” Ebert said.

She commended the parks and recreation department for making athletics a priority in the county.

The UFA and other clubs rent the field space, but Ebert said county staff worked with area groups to provide what was in demand and invest in youth and adult athletics.

Her family is excited to use not just the fields, Ebert said, but the park’s other features as well.

“It really is a great opportunity for Forsyth families to have an easily accessible park with great amenities,” she said.

Some other features include a paved walking trail that winds through the woods, the county’s largest pavilion and a 5-acre passive area ideal for large events.

The county’s Play at the Park or the Christmas arts and crafts fair could be held at Fowler, Kinsey said.

A dog park, which will be the county’s second, is set for a shadier area near the wooded walking path, Kinsey said. It likely will open sometime after the grand opening.

Fowler’s 1,200 parking spaces should provide ample room for visitors to enjoy the county’s newest amenity, though Kinsey said he always worries there won’t be enough.