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Parks projects abound at commission meeting
Lanierland
Lanierland Park's playground.

New additions and plans for local parks were a big topic of conversations this week for Forsyth County officials.

At the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, several bids, plans and recommendations for county parks were discussed or approved. Below are the projects that were brought up.

 

Hwy. 20 Operations Center

A former car dealership at the intersection of Canton Highway (Hwy. 20) and Spot Road Connector, will soon have a new use as an operations center for the parks and recreation department.

During the meeting, commissioners approved a bid for $50,000 to Jericho Design for design and providing construction documents for the center.

“This is for design and providing construction documents for the renovation and expansion of the parks and recreation operations center on Hwy. 20,” said Forsyth County Procurement Director Donna Kukarola. “This would be to include a trailhead for the Big Creek [Greenway] Phase 5.”

The fifth phase of the project will connect the existing trail to the Sawnee Mountain Preserver through Spot Road Connector and Spot Road. 

Hwy 20 operations center

Lanierland

One of Forsyth County’s newest parks will soon be getting more amenities.

Commissioners approved a bid for Lose Design worth $15,000 to handle a master plan update for the second phase of Lanierland Park, which opened in 2017.

“This would be the first part of it to do the master planning of it,” Kukarola said. “Phase 2, this is to include a baseball complex, tennis complex and walking trails.”

The work will include updating the site plan, and construction documents will be brought back to commissioners at a future meeting.

The total project is expected to cost about $11 million and is expected to take about two years to complete.


 What’s next for the former Barker House?

The site of the former Barker House, known for its spaceship-like design and location atop Sawnee Mountain, will soon see a number of park uses.

Pond and Company received a bid for just under $50,000 for master planning services for Phase 4 of the Sawnee Mountain Preserve, which includes land from the former Barker House and along Spot Road.

“There will be trails, shelters, parking and passive elements,” Kukarola said.

The total budget of the project, includes design, geotechnical, survey and construction work, is expected to be about $1.5 million.

The Barker House, designed by late architect Jim Barker as his home and sporting a flying-saucer-shaped structure on top connected to a basement through a staircase and elevator, was demolished in 2017 after the house fell into disrepair.

The county purchased the home and 13 acres around it for $1.8 million in 2003, but the unique design meant it could not meet standards under the American Disabilities Act, meaning it could not be used for any government uses unless renovated.

Vandalism and other crimes were also a concern, and from the beginning of 2015 to August 2016, local emergency personnel responded to 83 emergency and non-emergency calls at the property.

Sawnee Mountain Preserve

Sharon Springs, Denmark and Bennett parks

Commissioners approved bids for master planning services for three county parks.

“All three of these parks do require public, community input,” Kukarola said.

Sharon Springs Park’s plan was bid to Lose Design for $18,000 for athletic facilities, walking trails, a tennis complex and picnic pavilion.

Denmark Park, a planned park near Denmark High School, will be built with a walking trail, playground recreation elements and a “potential stadium complex,” according to Kukarola. The bid was approved to Woolpert Inc., for $13,275.

In north Forsyth, a bid for $59,820 was awarded to Hayes, James and Associates Inc., for athletic facilities, walking trail and picnic pavilion.

 

Sawnee Mountain and Midway parks

Woolpert Inc., received a bid for $29,175 to handle master planning services for both Sawnee Mountain and Midway parks.

“In Sawnee Mountain Park, the design of the park is laid out very, very well, just the facilities have stood the test of time,” said Parks and Recreation Director Jim Pryor. “For that park, we’re not doing a new master plan for the site. We’re actually coming right in and gutting out of a lot of the buildings and redoing them, renovating some of the fields and the tennis courts, giving the park really a facelift.”

Pryor said there were similar plans for Midway.

 

Glamping is growing

A popular kind of camping at Shady Grove Campground will expand, after commissioners approved an agreement with Georgia Glamping.

“Last year, 2018, we were approached by them about a long-term rental agreement that we could do offering glamping at the Shady Grove Campground. If anyone’s heard of ‘glamorous camping’ that’s what it is,” said Matt Pate, the parks department’s natural resources director. “We started last year. It was extremely successful. We did another agreement this year for five sites, and that’s been fantastic. We’d like to move to seven sites next season.”

 

Eagle’s Beak Park

A resolution from commissioners during the meeting will help the county pursue the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program grant for Eagle’s Beak Park in northwest Forsyth.

“It is pretty much a resolution that says if we get this grant and we build this park, that [commissioners] promise to keep spending money to adequately maintain that park, so by resolution you’re making that promise for the future,” Pryor said.

Pryor said the application for the grant will include a maintenance and management plan.

Plans for the park include two pavilions, a 1.25-mile-long, 8-foot-wide gravel trail, plaques with educational information and history of the Trail of Tears, just under 12 acres of greenspace and more. 

Eagle's Beak Park
Eagle's Beak Park

Accessible playgrounds

No action was taken, but commissioners held a discussion on potentially adding new playground equipment that is accessible to those with disabilities.

Pryor said the department previously had swings designed with wheelchair accessibility, but issues with children climbing on it and spinning the square, metal platform raised safety concerns.

“The standard now is to actually enclose them inside a locked fence to where if the people want to use them, they have to come get a key or have staff there to open them,” he said. “So, we’re talking about inclusive play, but we’re putting a fence around them.”

Pryor said such swings were an issued nation-wide and there was a movement to go toward playground pieces that rock back and forth, like those at Lanierland and Central Parks.