Healan’s Head’s Mill in East Hall, the last standing grist mill in the county, is incorporated into plans for a 100-acre Hall County park. County officials are seeking community input as a master plan for the property is almost finished.
The mill on Whitehall Road was built by William Head about 170 years ago, The Times has previously reported. It changed hands over the years until it was bought by Fred and Burnice Healan, the last private owners, in the 1960s.
The county bought the mill in 2003 and then in 2018 purchased another 96 acres around the mill.
County officials and the Friends of Healan’s Head’s Mill committee, a volunteer group of community members, have been working with consulting firm Wood and Partners on a master plan for the property. As the plan is finished, final steps include seeking community input about the proposed park.
A presentation video on the Hall County Parks and Leisure website shows ideas for the park, which include trails, an information center and history exhibits or demonstrations. The presentation ends with an email address where people can send their own feedback and ideas.
One in-person meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the East Hall Community Center, where community members can view the same presentation posted online.
The park property includes the mill itself, along with a former blacksmith shop and garage, a corn crib and a log barn that would likely be included in the park, according to the presentation.
The county has also acquired a home on the corner of Whitehall Road that was built by William Head’s daughter and son-in-law, Armour and Nancy Head Rucker. That home could be used as a visitors center or trailhead for the park, county officials say.
Becky Ruffner, marketing and public relations specialist for the county parks department, said a timeline or budget for the project has not been finalized yet, as the county hopes to look at the master plan and proceed from there. The plan will also identify possible funding sources and features for the park, she said.
As Fred and Burnice Healan’s niece, Ruffner has personal ties to the property. She said she lived there as a young adult for a couple years.
“It’s exciting to be able to have the opportunity to work on this project. It feels a little bit like coming full circle,” she said. “... By happenstance or fate, you happen to be in the right place at the right time to become involved in the project, just as part of the work that you do on a professional basis. That has been very special and very exciting for me.”