A remote North Hall park with a violent history has been temporarily closed.
At the request of Hall County Sheriff’s officials, Belton Bridge Park near Lula was shut down by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers until improvements can be made.
The small, spartan park on the banks of the Chattahoochee River has been the site of five homicides since 1979, including the Feb. 14 unsolved shooting death of Richard Schoeck of Snellville.
Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic first asked the corps to shut down the park in 2004 after a 20-year-old was stabbed to death there during a fight.
Following Schoeck’s murder, corps officials said they would make improvements. In recent weeks the park hours sign was replaced. The old hours were 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; they are now from sunrise to sundown.
Temporary gates have been erected to keep traffic out of the main portion of the park until the improvements are finished.
Officials hope to see paving work began at the park in the next two weeks, said Lisa Coghlan, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns and maintains the property.
“We’re also working with Georgia Power to get some lighting in,” Coghlan said. “We believe the improvements will enhance the recreational opportunities for our users.”
Hall County Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland said the agency has worked closely with the corps to address concerns about the park since the murder occurred.
“It was difficult for our patrol cars to access the entire park, and there was a lot of illegal activity going on there,” Strickland said. “We have had great cooperation with the Corps of Engineers and we feel the enhancements will greatly reduce criminal activity and make it much more enjoyable for the public.”
Strickland said the murder of Schoeck, who was shot multiple times outside his truck while at the park to meet his wife, remains under active investigation.