A divisive proposal to put a marina at Bolding Mill Park in northwest Hall County is at a legal standstill.
“Nothing is occurring with the marina proposal until we can determine” how a provision in a new federal water law applies to talks between the Army Corps of Engineers and Hall County over a possible park lease, said Pat Robbins, spokesman at the corps’ Mobile (Ala.) District.
The Mobile District governs federal projects in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, including Lake Lanier.
Two issues are at stake: Hall’s interest in leasing the park and the corps’ considering a marina at the park at 4055 Chestatee Road near Cool Springs Road.
“We are awaiting guidance from our headquarters on all the elements” of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act approved by Congress earlier this year, Robbins said.
The corps announced in February it would send out a formal “request for proposals” for the marina, in part to “satisfy the portion of the master plan that calls for fuel services” on the Chestatee River arm of the lake, corps spokeswoman Lisa Parker has said.
Corps officials also have said the marina might increase visitation to the campground.
But the plans drew immediate fire, including from Friends of Bolding Mill, a private group that has lined Chestatee Road with green “Save the Chestatee” signs.
David Day, one of the leading opponents, said this week he has talked with more than 100 campers and “they all tell me the same thing, without exception, and that is if a marina goes out there, they won’t come back.”
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins also has joined the fray, sending a Sept. 29 letter to Col. Jon J. Chytka, Mobile District commander, saying, “With other marinas’ operation below full capacity, an additional marina is not viable in that location.”
Opposition isn’t universal, however. One area resident, Gary Fortune, said a marina could boost park attendance, which is “bleak at best.”
“I think a lot of people would like to dock their boats up here at a marina and I think a restaurant would be great for our community,” he said.
“The most who are complaining about it are (neighborhoods) that already have marinas, so it’s kind of like calling the kettle black, if you ask me.”
As that issue developed, Hall County told the corps it would like to take over maintenance and operations of Bolding Mill, as well as Wahoo Creek Park.
Parks and Leisure Director Mike Little has said it would likely cost between $100,000 and $120,000 annually to operate and maintain both parks.
Particularly as far as Bolding Mill operations go, “we’re still in negotiations with (the corps),” said Richard Mecum, chairman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners.
Hall County asked Collins’ office to get involved “because so many people were against a marina being put in,” he said. “I think a marina is still being looked at off the Chestatee, but it may be more into another area.”
In his letter, Collins asked Chytka to hurry up the interpretation of the water law “so negotiations can go forward.”
A sticking point is language in the law that details how a “cooperative joint agreement” can be entered into between Hall and the corps.
“I believe that this campground will be best served through the (agreement),” Collins said.