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Regional commission awarded for innovation in renovating Lake Lanier Olympic Park
A small group gathers Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park for a brief award ceremony as the Georgia Mountains Regional Commission receives a 2017 National Association of Development Organizations Innovation Award for its work with the Lake Lanier Olympic Park project. - photo by Scott Rogers

A local agency has gotten national attention for its work renovating Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

In netting a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Gainesville-based Georgia Mountains Regional Commission received a 2017 National Association of Development Organizations Innovation Award.

GMRC officials presented the award Monday to venue manager Robyn Lynch during a brief ceremony at the park’s 1996 Olympic Tower.

Heather Feldman, GMRC executive director, said the national association looks to recognize projects “that are out of the box, not traditional.”

“Not everybody in the United States can say they have this great asset that’s out here,” she said.

“It’s just a great project all around,” Feldman added, also noting the involvement of Gainesville, Hall County and the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “The impact of this venue is far-reaching.”

GMRC’s application was one of 62 projects nationwide recognized by the national group, she said.

“This is a prime example of how partnerships should work,” said Daniel Martin, GMRC’s economic development director.

“We appreciate the partnership,” Lynch said. “This is not the last time we’re going to work together.”

The $300,000 was spent toward a handicapped-accessible ramp and improvements to the tower and a service building, said James Watson, assistant venue manager.

The park has other improvements planned, including renovations to the boathouse and public restrooms.

“Right now, we’re in the process of getting (Army Corps of Engineers) approval for our master plan,” Lynch said.