New plans for a northwest Forsyth park include new pavilions, buildings and a walking trail but several speakers at a meeting this week would like to see it go back to its previous use.
At a meeting on Wednesday evening, the Forsyth County Board of Parks and Recreation voted 3-0, with members Joe Brown and Brian Yearwood absent, to approve plans from Hayes James and Associates for a master plan for Eagle’s Beak Park.
Parks Director Jim Pryor said the project is expected to cost about $2.5 million. If approved by commissioners, the department will seek the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program grant.
“This project will score very, very well with that, so we hope once it’s approved to move forward and look to go for that grant,” Pryor said. “That grant covers projects from $500,000-$3 million, requires a 25 percent match from the county and we are proposing that the match for that comes from the [Eagle Point] landfill account. The landfill is just north of the property, and the county gets proceeds from the landfill they have to reinvest in the property.”
Along with tying it with an existing canoe launch, trail parking lot and restroom building, new amenities proposed for the park include:
- A 1.25-mile-long, 8-foot-wide gravel trail;
- Mixed wildflower pits;
- Plaques with educational information and history of the Trail of Tears;
- Two covered sheds;
- Two pavilions;
- An 11,000-square-foot playground area with three shaded structures and benches;
- A little under 12 acres of maintained green space;
- 201 gravel parking spaces;
- Riverview areas;
- Fencing along the roadway.
A big issue with the property is that it lies in a flood plain along the Etowah River, which means the area is subject to not only flooding but the silt that often gets left behind.
During public comment session, several speakers said they would like to see the area be used for flying model aircraft, which had been the use of the field for more than a decade until the lease with Georgia Model Aviators expired at the end of 2017.
“We have a diverse population, we have an aging population. There’s a lot of folks that enjoy model airplanes and that type of stuff,” said John Bolton, a former GMA member. “Is there any way we can accomplish a couple of things: provide a playground for kids and provide … some type of [area for] model airplanes or throwing a Frisbee or something like?”
With their recommendation, the parks board asked county commissioners to consider allowing flying at the property. Pryor said that was a legal matter and would ultimately be up to commissioners.
GMA had a lease with the previous owner that carried over when Forsyth County purchased the land. The lease expired at the end of 2017, as part of a settlement with nearby property owners.
The county purchased the 225-acre property in 2009 with funding from the $100 million bond referendum for parks, green space and recreation that voters approved in 2008.