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Lake Lanier Islands looking to add parks
Authority wants to acquire three corps parks in area
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Sammy Smith reacts to winning the Ward 5 Gainesville City Board of Education seat and discusses his plans between now and taking office Jan. 1.

BUFORD -- The Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority voted Friday to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow three public use areas on Lake Lanier to become part of the lease on Lake Lanier Islands.

If approved, Big Creek, Chestnut Ridge, and Shoal Creek and Little Shoal Creek parks would be operated by LLI Management Co., which holds a 50-year lease on the 1,100-acre island resort.

The management company began discussions about the potential use of the parks last year. Friday's action is a first step toward opening the parks up for planned improvements by the operating company.

One of the parks, Chestnut Ridge, was closed by the corps in 2006 because of budget constraints. LLI's plans for the park call for the establishment of a campground for large recreational vehicles, as well as sites for tent camping.

Big Creek park is presently a day-use boat ramp. The company's plans for the park include construction of a new boat ramp on the site. The new ramp would be designed to accommodate boats during low water levels. The remainder of the site would be green space for picnicking and recreation. Plans call for construction of 14 new picnic sites.

Shoal Creek and the five acre parcel known as Little Shoal Creek would become a major camping area. The park would have an amenity center with bathhouse and laundry facilities, a swimming pool and light retail center for groceries.

One of the concepts for Shoal Creek park includes the possibility of construction of an access bridge from the islands to the park.

The Army has a policy encouraging state and local governments to lease corps land to provide recreational opportunities.

Also on Friday, the board approved maps showing the area of responsibility for roads, water and wastewater on the islands. A portion of those expenses will be paid by the authority, while roads and pipelines connecting to the islands various attractions will be paid for by the management company.