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Elachee looks to start charging for parking
The Elachee Nature Science Center is looking at charging $5 per car and offering $50 annual parking passes.

Hall County Board of Commissioners voting meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: 2875 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Visitors to Elachee Nature Science Center may soon have to pay a parking fee.

The environmental attraction next to the historic Chicopee Village off Atlanta Highway/Ga. 13 is looking at charging $5 per car and offering $50 annual parking passes, said Andrea Timpone, Elachee president and CEO.

“We’ve done our homework in comparing other local (park) prices,” she said.

Proceeds will go to ensuring security for the park, which has had several car break-ins, Timpone said

“Plus, we have a school here now,” she said, referring to the Elachee Nature Academy, which operates kindergarten and first grade.

School field trips also are common at Elachee.

To accommodate the change, the park is planning to build a parking attendant station at the entrance — a project discussed Monday at the Hall County Board of Commissioners’ work session.

Chicopee Woods Area Park Commission, which oversees the 2,674-acre park that includes Elachee, is asking the Hall County Board of Commissioners to abandon 130 feet of county-maintained right of way to enable the project.

“It’s currently hard to control access in and out of the park,” said Hall County Commissioner Scott Gibbs, a Park Commission board member. “This will give (the park) greater control of comings and goings and knowing who’s there.

“We’ve got to have this (attendant station) to do that.”

A first reading and public hearing on the right of way abandonment is set before the county commission at 6 p.m. Thursday. A final vote is set for April 25.

Timpone said she hopes the change will take place as soon as possible.

With warmer weather now in force, “I think we’re three months behind (on the change), personally,” she said.

But the new attendant building, which will be staffed by a mix of volunteers and paid staff members, won’t go up in a hurry.

“We want it to be in character with the park,” Timpone said. “We don’t want something cheap. We want a nice entrance … where people can get information about the bike trails, nature center and activities going on here, and our hiking trails.”