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Corps works on parks, shoreline during offseason
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A worker hauls away broken pieces of pavement Thursday morning at Van Pugh Middle Park. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is turning the day-use park in West Hall into a campground. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Chief Park Ranger Chris Arthur with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talks about work being done at Van Pugh South Park off Gaines Ferry Road in West Hall.

FLOWERY BRANCH — With fall weather comes cooler weather and a chance for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get busy with park upgrades and other work.

The corps has closed Van Pugh South and Middle parks for revamping, including turning the south park, which had been a day-use area, back into a campground.

Construction involves building a gate house near the park entrance, replacing an old one that was used when it was formerly a campground.

In addition, crews “will do some paving, change all the signage, trim trees back on the roads ... to accommodate (overnight) campers,” Chief Park Ranger Chris Arthur said.

When the park reopens in the spring, the gate house will have two sets of full-time attendants, he said.

The corps used to operate campgrounds at nearby Chestnut Ridge and Shoal Creek parks, which are now part of Lake Lanier Islands.

“There is demand for camping (in the area), and Shoal Creek used to be a very popular area,” Arthur said.

Van Pugh Middle, which is next to the south park, will also be reworked to feature 28 parking spaces.

“They’re tearing the pavement out. We’re going to make that sort of a walk-in area,” said Chris Lovelady, natural resource manager for the corps.

Paving has been done at the boat ramp at Van Pugh North Park, which also features picnic areas, restrooms and beaches.

The corps has used some federal stimulus money for paving work at Van Pugh North, Old Federal Day Use Park and Sardis Creek Park’s boat ramp parking lot, as well as some improvements at Bolding Mill campground.

Crews “are doing a lot of work at Bolding Mill,” Arthur said. “It needs curbing and cross ties replaced, and we’re going to open up the whole campground next year instead of half the campground.”

All the corps-run campgrounds close between September and November and reopen in March or April.

Schedules vary for the day-use parks, although many are open year-round. The beaches now are, for the most part, closed until April.

In other work, three-person crews with Anderson Construction Co. of Buford have been traveling by boat around the lake’s shoreline mostly remarking boundary lines.

That work has been ongoing for more than a month, Lovelady said.

“They’ll pull up the boat (to the shore), get out and walk the boundary line,” he added. “They’ll stay on the same line — they’re not just here and there. If people see them out behind their house, they are supposed to be there. And they’re not surveying.

“... On occasion, what you’ll find is a tree that has died and fallen down that had paint on it, or we allowed someone to remove it because it was a hazard. They’ll pick another tree that’s close (by) and paint it.”

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