One more step has been taken to turn Cherokee Bluffs Park from a dream into reality.
Hall County commissioners have authorized Hayes, James & Associates to proceed with infrastructure design of the park in the southern portion of the county.
Commission Chairman Richard Mecum said this will help determine what’s in the area.
“We’re asking for some drawings to be made up, (to) kind of give us some idea of what’s in the park,” Mecum said.
For example, a cemetery has already been identified, but is not properly outlined, according to concerned resident Teresa Owens.
“They put a little square that indicated an approximate location (of the cemetery),” Owens said.
She wants the county to properly identify the boundaries of the unmarked cemetery. The burial plots are thought to go back to the 1700s, with the land then used for farming. It’s currently pastureland, Owens said.
The park property, covering more than 100 acres, was purchased by the county in 2006.
Use of the park is expected to be low impact. Uses include walking and biking trails, as well as an outdoor performing space.
“Most of the things that are going to be out there are going to be passive with the exception of an amphitheater,” Commissioner Craig Lutz said. “That amphitheater is being built on property that was farmed for years.”
An area tentatively being called Friendship Village may also be developed.
“There is an old log cabin that’s been restored by the (Hall County) Historical Society,” Lutz said. “We would like to eventually have that brought out and reassembled.”
He added there has been some thought of placing a blacksmith shop, primitive church or possibly an old school building on the property.
Ken Cochran, past president of the historical society, said the Roberts-Orr house is just sitting in storage right now.
“It would be an ideal place for it,” Cochran said about the park.
The one thing that may be prohibitive, of course, is a lack of funding.
Cochran said once the house finds its new property, there would have to be some way to maintain it.
“If the county could possibly assist in putting it (at the park), they have to come up with an idea of how to maintain it from that day forward,” he said.
He said he plans to discuss options with Lutz and the other commissioners.
“We’re looking at doing what we can do to talk about the history of Hall County,” Lutz said about use of the property.
Other previously discussed ideas for the area include a dog park, nature center and equestrian facilities.
Lutz said a study was completed when the county acquired the property in 2006.
“I don’t believe anything of any significance was found out there,” Lutz said.
Owens said she wants the park to progress, but after further research is done to accurately assess what’s on the property.
“You bring the professionals in first,” she said. “You get the information that you need to go forward.
“The opening of this park is not important compared to the history that’s there,” Owens added.
She also said there have been vandalism issues, which she would like to see resolved.
Regardless, as development moves forward, the commissioners say they are aware it is a historic area.
“It’s a beautiful area. There’s a lot of history there, and everybody recognizes that,” Mecum said.
“It’s trying to identify what is there. That’s our real question. And by putting (Hayes, James & Associates) in there to look at it, they can really tell us what is there, exactly where it’s at, how close can we come to it, how can we protect it. A lot of things we really don’t know yet.”