A remnant of both Georgia and local history is poised for a comeback, with an agreement involving Gainesville and Hall County now officially set.
Officials say the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, has been in a state of disrepair and is in need of management. The lease agreement involving the city and county funnels $300,000 to Gainesville-Hall ’96 Foundation, a group originally established to bring 1996 Summer Olympic events to Hall County.
It’s never officially been defunct, but was re-established earlier this year to address needed improvements at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue.
“The original facility and the boathouses, they were all built with the sole intention of the ’96 Olympics,” said Meg Nivens, executive director of Vision 2030, a branch of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “That’s been almost 20 years. It wasn’t built with long-term vision at the time.”
Both Nivens and Gainesville-Hall ’96 Foundation Chairwoman Mimi Collins said a variety of improvements need to be made, from bathroom renovations to heating and air-conditioning issues.
“There was a plan developed ... several years ago about capital needs out there,” Collins said. “The task will be to ... look at the short-term and long-term needs that we have out at the venue, and prioritize those and begin to figure out how (to) address those needs.
“There’s also infrastructure issues that are really important to the paddlers and to the aesthetics of the venue with docks,” she added. The venue is home to the Lake Lanier Rowing and Lake Lanier Canoe and Kayak clubs.
But while restorations are needed, the first order of business is to hire a manager. The position was advertised in early November, and Nivens said there were more than 50 applicants.
“The big thing that we’re doing right now, and this was contingent on the funding, is developing a role for a venue manager,” Collins said. “We have not started interviewing as of yet, but that is key to our strategy for moving forward.”
The Lake Lanier Olympic Venue lease agreement outlines a total funding of $300,000; Hall County agreed to provide $150,000 at its Dec. 12 meeting. Gainesville approved the agreement and to fund $120,000 on its end at the Tuesday meeting. The remaining $30,000 comes from Gainesville Parks and Recreation.
The agreement itself is retroactive, running from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, to match the governments’ fiscal years.
“This has been a long process to get to here, and we want the venue to be successful, and we want the clubs that operate there to be successful,” Collins said. “We want to return value to the city and the county and the citizens. I think that will be our goal, our marching orders, and what we will need to do to have long-term viability.”