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Hall commissioners consider 4 options for Cool Springs
Board votes on Thursday to decide fate of former park site
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Other Business:

The Board of Commissioners also discussed the possibility of several departments remaining in downtown Gainesville when the county consolidates its offices to the Liberty Mutual building on Browns Bridge Road.

At its last meeting, the board asked staff to look into revenue that could be generated if the county continues to lease space in the building to Liberty Mutual rather than moving the Tax Commissioner's Office, Tax Assessors Office and county Administration into the space.
Interim Finance Director Lisa Johnsa told the commission that would no longer be an option.

If more than 10 percent of the square footage is occupied by a private company, then the bonds used to finance the purchase of the building will no longer be tax exempt, creating additional costs and penalties for the county, she said.

The commission will further discuss the Liberty Mutual building at its board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Melissa Weinman

 

The Hall County Board of Commissioners considered four different options for the Cool Springs Park property at Monday's work session.

After the commission voted in January to halt construction of Cool Springs Park, Commissioner Billy Powell asked the board to consider building just the ballfields to help ease the shortage of sports facilities in the area.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden provided estimates of what it would cost to build basic practice fields, mid-range fields and competition grade fields.

Practice fields would cost $600,000 and include a gravel parking lot, a bathroom facility and fencing only for the backstops and up the baselines. The fields would be planted with fescue grass and there would be no irrigation or field lights.

Should the commission want to spend $1.57 million, irrigation could be installed for the fields and standard turf could be planted. There would also be drainage for the parking lot.

To build everything according to competition standards, it would cost $2.35 million.

The other option is for the commission to continue with its plan to halt construction and build no park facilities.

The commission voted in January to abandon the park, agreeing instead to consider it in a few years when the economy improves.

That choice still comes with a $175,000 cost to live up to the agreement with Cool Springs, LLC, the developer of the nearby Marina Bay subdivision that donated the 75-acre park property to the county.

The property will need to be stabilized to prevent erosion and the deed calls on the county to build a paved road to provide access to a boat storage area for Marina Bay that was blocked when park construction began. A gravel lot and security lights for the storage area were also included in the contract.

The commission agreed to vote on one of the options at Thursday's 6 p.m. board meeting.

Powell said he still supports building a full baseball facility but is willing to discuss the other options with the commission.

"Practice fields would help, but playing fields would help more," Powell said. "I'd love to see fields installed that the kids could compete on."

Commissioner Scott Gibbs, who voted in favor of halting the Cool Springs Park, urged the county attorney to read the deed to make sure officials are in compliance with the agreement. If the terms are not upheld and a park is not developed, the donation will expire and revert instead to the developer's grandchildren.

"I want to make sure we don't lose the property, whichever route we go," Gibbs said.

 

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