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Residents split over new lake park in northeast Forsyth

NORTHEAST FORSYTH — Tensions ran high at times on Wednesday night as neighbors discussed a proposed lakeside park in Forsyth County’s extreme northeast corner.

The meeting, held at the Coal Mountain Park community building, allowed nearby residents to learn about and offer input on the proposed Wildcat Creek Park at the end of Crystal Cove Trail.

Of the five proposed park locations to which Forsyth County received access from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of a 2012 legal settlement, the 28-acre site is the only one being considered for development.

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills of north Forsyth said the meeting was a chance to clear the air.

“The last thing that I wanted to happen was for there to be a lot of bad information dispensed, and people to think it was something that it wasn’t,” Mills said. “I definitely wanted for communication to be paramount in getting the truth out about things instead of people making up things.”

Wildcat and the other park sites were part of an agreement with the corps and the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta that brought the years-long Bethel Park litigation to a close.

The YMCA has since moved forward with its long-held plans to develop a youth summer camp facility on 62 acres on three of Bethel’s peninsulas.

Since the county would be leasing the other sites from the corps, only amenities that pertain to the lake or the outdoors can be considered, not ball fields or tennis courts.

One possibility for Wildcat would be a nature center where kids could learn about the area. Mills said that keeping area kids out of trouble as they get older is one of her priorities.

“The more and more research that I have done on drugs and drug usage and just the whole cycle of it keeps pointing back to kids,” she said. “The best way to help anyone on drugs is to help them never try them.”

Along with the nature center, the county is also considering a dock at Wildcat where boats from the local sheriff’s office and fire department could be stationed, though the latter doesn’t currently have such a vessel. 

Other possible amenities discussed at the meeting were a trail around the site, a beach and — most divisively — a boat ramp.

Residents appeared split on whether a boat ramp would be a benefit or detriment.

Some also raised issues with traffic and what they perceived to be inadequate roads, parking, safety and cleanliness in the area.

Representatives from the sheriff’s office, fire department and parks and recreation division were on hand to field questions from the public, as were members of the corps and Lake Lanier Association.