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Groundbreaking for Cherokee Bluffs Park expected by July 1
Hall taking bids on construction and design
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Hall County is accepting bids for construction of a park in South Hall, and groundbreaking on roads and parking is expected by July 1.

The bid period will run until June 3 for design and construction of a 2,500-square-foot community building, pavilion, concession stand and outdoor amphitheater for the planned 100-acre Cherokee Bluffs Park.

A required prebid meeting will be held at the park at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

The park, located along Blackjack Road in Flowery Branch near the Sterling on the Lake subdivision, is being funded through some $1.2 million in impact fees along with $600,000 from the special purpose local option sales tax VI, which will fund phase II, according to Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley.

The undeveloped land sat quiet until last June, when a first public tour introduced the rolling grasslands and pine and hardwood forest to area residents. Earlier in April 2013, a public meeting on the future park was held to gain reaction to the amenities proposed. The land has been owned by the county for a number of years but has remained closed to the public.

It was necessary to begin development of the park or the SPLOST funds to do so would expire. 

The site includes a man-made pond and a smaller natural one. The larger one will be stocked with catfish for a catch-and-release fishing pond. 

The man-made lake already has a new bridge, and its associated dam has been fortified with rip rock.

Unique to the acreage is its natural granite outcroppings, sometimes called Stone Mountain’s toenails by local residents. Once the park is open, the granite outcroppings will be open for free climbing. 

This extended granite outcropping, which punctuates the terrain, once served as shelter for both Native Americans and white settlers in the area, according to historical accounts. This formation and the finding of a single gravesite have made some area residents nervous about the union of park development and historical safekeeping. 

An archaeological study has confirmed the presence of a single gravesite that will remain protected, according to Mike Little, director of Hall County’s parks and recreation department. 

In addition to the hardscape of the park, a 4-mile run of all-terrain cycling paths is going to be cut by county employees, under the design of the International Mountain Bike Association. 

It is more cost-effective to use county employees, Little said, but due to the technical nature of this type of trail, the county is relying on the expertise of the IMBA, whose designers have already flagged the trails. Designed as multiuse, the various loops will also have interpretive signage and be designed with different levels of difficulty, Little said. 

“IMBA really is the premiere worldwide mountain-biking organization,” said Tom Souret, director of the Southeast region for IMBA. “This will be the first trail system in Hall County that IMBA has designed from scratch, maybe the first in Georgia.”

The approved plan allows IMBA to conceptualize the trail system, flag the pathway and train county workers to properly construct mountain-biking trails. The cost will be $16,729, of which $5,000 will be paid by IMBA with the remaining amount provided by the county through SPLOST and impact fees.

The trail will wind through 200 acres split between the park and a nearby quarry, for which the county obtained an easement, Souret said.

For the sportsman — or sportswoman — there will be another unique offering. 

“DNR is building an archery range,” Little said. The Department of Natural Resources is funding the construction, he said. “We’re clearing the area; they’re building everything out. ... They’ll provide the targets for us — life-sized animals. That’s going to be a nice amenity.”

The site will include a 6-foot privacy fence, said Little, and an elevated entrance ramp to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

In addition to the archery, fishing and trails, Little said plans include disc golf. 

“We’ll do that in-house,” he said. “We’ve got several folks in the community that are savvy.”