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Board plans upgrades for Olympic site
New panel out to upgrade Lake Lanier site with renovations
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Mimi Collins took the reins of the Gainesville/Hall ‘96 Foundation on Friday morning when the new board of directors met for the first time.

The foundation is moving to take control of the Lake Lanier Olympic Center’s destiny and restore it from a neglected site to its former glory, with the ability to generate revenue.

The nonprofit, also known as Gainesville/Hall County ’96 Roundtable, worked to bring Olympic rowing and paddling events to the area for the 1996 Summer Olympics and then maintained the site’s legacy. The city of Gainesville and Hall County recently agreed to make more of an investment in the venue and Vision 2030, a Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce initiative, has brought in other community members, including other city and county officials, community leaders and members of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club and the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club, to form the new board.

The new directors officially met for the first time Friday. It elected officers, discussed writing an intergovernmental agreement, established work groups and set meeting times, dates and locations. A draft budget and facility director job description was passed out, but is expected to be discussed at the September meeting.

“I hope, and I think we do, have a lot of folks that are passionate about what’s going on,” Collins said. “If we could build off that momentum and get some easy, early wins for people to see some movement. My goal is to just keep moving.”

Hall County and Gainesville are both planning to give the foundation $150,000 each for the foundation board to manage. The money is planned to go toward hiring a full-time facility manager to operate the site and making capital improvements.

The center at Clarks Bridge Park needs major renovations, including work on the maintenance building, boathouse and docks, officials have said. The cost to fix up the venue has been estimated between $1.2 million and $1.9 million.

Collins met earlier this week with members of the city and county, including County Administrator Randy Knighton and City Manager Kip Padgett, to discuss writing an intergovernmental agreement spelling out the responsibilities the board to both governments.

“Randy and Kip both felt that didn’t need to be a long process,” she said. “That’s a big ‘to do’ that we need to work on and we’ll do that.”

Four work groups were established to deal with several issues, including finances, finding a facility manager, assessing capital needs and miscellaneous issues. The draft budget has total revenue coming in as $334,500, with $70,000 for the manager’s salary, $55,400 in operating cost and $17,500 in repair and maintenance.

The manager at a minimum must have four years of facility management experience and supervisory ability at a senior management level, or equivalent education and experience, the draft job description said.

Collins, with Vision 2030, was elected chair; Phil Sutton, with the rowing club, was elected vice chairman. Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Eden was chosen as treasurer and Stacey Dickson of the Lake Lanier Convention and Visitors Bureau was made secretary. Founders Steve Gilliam and Jim Mathis will remain as advisers.

The next meeting is 8 a.m. Sept. 20 at the site.

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