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Forsyth officials, Atlanta group to talk compromise over Bethel Park
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The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners is expected to go to Atlanta this week in an effort to end the fight for Bethel Park.

The board will hold a closed session Wednesday at the U.S. Court of Appeals in compliance with a court-ordered mediation.

“This is not unusual,” Forsyth County attorney Ken Jarrard said. “It is a mandatory, 11th Circuit court-ordered mediation and the county will comply in good faith.”

Jarrard said the parties involved may separately discuss whether a compromise can be reached.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in September leased the 62-acre park on Lake Lanier to the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta.

As a result, the county filed a request for preliminary injunction to stop the organization from developing a youth summer camp facility at the site.

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story denied the county’s request in December, and last month neighbors urged the board to appeal the judge’s decision.

The appeal is based on the notion that Story incorrectly interpreted corps’ statutes.

The Flood Control Act of 1944 gives local governments the right to first refusal, which has sparked debate between the two sides over whether the county received an adequate opportunity to acquire the park in northeastern Forsyth.

Beyond first refusal, the corps’ laws allow the land to be leased to whichever entity better serves the public interest.

The corps expected to lease the site to the YMCA in 2006. But, in response to residents’ concerns, the county also sought to lease it and submitted a competing plan in 2007.

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