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Residents quiz Bell on park, golf sites
Bethel lawsuit is 'still in limbo'
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Forsyth County News
Recreation was on the minds of residents who attended Monday’s town hall meeting in north Forsyth.

Organized by Commissioner Patrick Bell, the session drew about 30 people to Coal Mountain Elementary School.

Dick Gellner asked Bell how “the purchase of Lanier Golf Course [was] coming along?”

Bell said commissioners haven’t talked about the controversial 170-acre property in several months, but he had “a feeling it will be coming back soon.”

The county has spent nearly $24,000 on multiple appraisals for the Buford Dam Road course. And it is still involved in litigation over the site.

Bell said he “didn’t agree with” the 2008 parks and green space bond, which could potentially fund the purchase of the golf course.

“I thought [the bond] was unnecessary, but the voters said they wanted it, so we’ve done the best we can with it,” he said.

Another resident asked Bell for an update on Bethel Park, a 62-acre U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property in northeastern Forsyth.

Many residents were curious about the county’s lawsuit to stop the corps from leasing the site to the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta.

At the meeting, Bell said commissioners “were attempting to mediate with the corps, but it did not work, so we’re proceeding to court.”

He said the court hearing could come in the next couple weeks.

“It’s still in limbo,” Bell said. “The county is proceeding with the lawsuit.”

The YMCA wants to convert the park into a private camp with cabins, sports fields, a marina, dining hall, chapel and outdoor pool.

Ricia Maxie asked Bell about a tax credit program the county is considering.

Maxie is concerned about the program, through which businesses in certain areas could be eligible for the state-funded program that rewards the creation of new jobs.

“I’m not necessarily anti-growth, but I want the county to stay beautiful,” Maxie said.

Bell said the program promotes “planned growth” and could “give people an incentive to locate in certain parts of the county.”

The Department of Community Affairs program allows local governments to create Opportunity Zones “to provide tax incentives for economic development and revitalization of pockets of poverty that exist in communities.”