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North Hall park approved by commission

POSTED: May 14, 2009 10:10 p.m.

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North Hall residents celebrated the Hall County commission’s vote Thursday night to go forward with developing a 60-acre athletic complex and community center in their part of the county.

"It’s been on the master plan for six years and we’ve watched other facilities go up and we’re proud for them," said Robbie Robison of Murrayville, after leaving the meeting room and exchanging high fives with another resident.

"Now it’s time for ours, and I feel like this is the first of many steps. We’re going to stay united — this group here — and we will see this whole thing through."

He told the commission, "We’ve been waiting a long time to have this facility in North Hall. Our kids, our families are starving for something like this."

The county’s special purpose local option sales tax will pay up to $12 million for the project.

North Hall Commissioner Steve Gailey said the athletic part of the park would be modeled after the East Hall park, and the community center would favor one built in East Hall and one under construction in South Hall.

"Land acquisition and purchase needs to be initiated immediately," Gailey said. "We’re working on that now. ... Then, we can move forward with the grading plans and rest of the site conditions."

Gailey added that completion of the project could take two to three years.

"We’re here to help you out," Robison told the commission. "We’d like to see this thing move on a fast track. We need something up there now. We’re driving everywhere to play (sports)."

North Hall resident Billy Eades also spoke about the need for more recreational space, telling the commission, "We’ve been looking for this for the past six years."

Gailey said he would push for the project.

"I’m going to see that we expedite this," he said. "I would hope within a year we will be out of the ground with something."

Commissioner Ashley Bell asked for a clarification of "priority status."

"We’re not going to put it on the back burner. ... We’re going to maintain an orderly track," Chairman Tom Oliver said. "... And we need to make this as nice as we possibly can make it, and I think the commission is committed to that."

The commission also voted, upon Bell’s motion, to develop a list of what gets funded first with SPLOST revenue.

"We can’t fast-track everything," he said.

Hall County also is looking to develop a skate park and other facilities after Cool Springs LLC, developer of the Marina Bay subdivision, offered a parcel of its holdings to Hall County for free.

Currently, there are no county facilities for skateboarding and BMX biking, said Parks and Leisure Director Greg Walker in April.

The conceptual plan for the park includes baseball and softball fields, tennis courts, multipurpose fields, bike trails, a pond and a playground.

Commissioner Billy Powell has said he thinks the park could cost around $4 million, much of which would come from SPLOST funds and impact fees.



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