Funding approval for a once-controversial park project met no resistance from the Hall County Board of Commissioners on Monday.
After months of debate earlier this year about how the county should use Cool Springs Park land, commissioners consented to authorizing nearly $1.9 million for building ballfields complete with lights. More than $400,000 of that will come from impact fees that had not previously been tagged for the project.
"We've come a long way," said Chairman Tom Oliver to some chuckles, after the discussion passed with no debate at Monday's work session.
The park, a 70-acre plot located in the northwest corner of the county, is currently slated to include turf baseball fields with bathroom facilities, irrigation and other amenities. The tentative completion date is July 2012.
Commissioner Craig Lutz opposed that plan earlier this year. His main concern, he said, was the cost to operate the amenities.
Even after commissioners in February initially approved construction at Cool Springs Park, Lutz unsuccessfully tried in March to downgrade the facilities that would accompany the fields.
On Monday, however, Lutz did not oppose using additional impact fees for completing the work.
When construction was initially approved, the county agreed to use SPLOST V money to pay for it.
However, there is only about $1.46 million available for the project out of the $1.67 million needed for construction; that's without lights for the fields. Installing lights would cost an additional $205,000.
Lutz and other commissioners have agreed, at least initially, to use $418,000 in impact fees to fund the additional costs.
"If you don't have lights for the parks, how useful will it be?" Lutz said.
Commissioners hope the cost of the lights and their use would be offset by revenue from charging leagues to use the fields.
Lutz said he had not exactly changed his mind about the plans for Cool Springs Park.
"I still have concerns about the operational costs," he said. "It's not in the budget to pay for those costs."
However, he explained, the county was obliged to spend that impact fee money for parks within the county. So it made sense, he said, to use it to complete the park.
Final approval of the funding plan is expected to pass at Thursday's commission meeting.