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Lula considers leasing park from county

Park was one Hall closed due to budget cuts

POSTED: July 10, 2011 11:00 p.m.
TOM REED/The Times

The gate to the baseball field at Rafe Banks Park in Lula has been locked since the park was closed by the Hall County Board of Commissioners due to steep budget cuts.

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Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin was enjoying a Fourth of July picnic at Rafe Banks Park in Lula when he said county officials showed up to close the park.

But he said if all goes according to plan, the gates won't stay locked for long.

The park was just one victim of the deep cuts Hall County commissioners made as they attempted to shore up an $11.5 million budget shortfall.

"The city has taken the position that (Rafe Banks Park) is too important to the North Hall and East Hall area," Bergin said. "We have approached the county about actually letting us take over the obligations instead of closing the park."

If approved by the Lula City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners, Lula would sign a 25-year lease on the park.

Bergin estimated it would cost the city about $30,000 annually to maintain, but it's a price they're willing to pay.

"We're like everybody else — there's not enough money in the pocket," he said. "But at the council's direction, we think we can make this work. ... We think that's an asset just too important to the area. It does what we're supposed to be doing — serving the people."

Commission Chairman Tom Oliver didn't have a lot of information about the plan but said Friday that it sounded like a good idea.

"It's so refreshing that they're taking the lead," he said. "I commend the mayor, city council and city manager up there. I just think it's great and it shows great leadership."

Rafe Banks Park rests on a 24-acre plot within the Lula city limits.

It boasts a walking trail, tennis and basketball courts, softball and baseball fields, and a picnic pavilion, Bergin said.

The special called meeting to discuss the issue is set for 6:30 tonight at Lula's city hall.

 



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