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Park staff reviews bids for Cherokee Bluffs Park
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Cherokee Bluffs Park is one step closer to reality following the Tuesday close of the bidding period for design and construction of the greenspace park.

Located along Blackjack Road in Flowery Branch near Sterling on the Lake, the 100-acre park is planned to include a 2,500-square-foot community building, pavilion, concession stand and outdoor amphitheater.

The site already includes a man-made pond and a smaller natural one, as well as natural granite outcroppings that are planned to be available for free climbing once the park is open.

Ken Rearden, Hall County Public Works and Utilities director, said four firms sent in qualification packages to be considered for the work.

Staff will review those bids “separately without consultation with other staff members,” he said.

After review, each firm’s bid will be ranked using a scoring matrix. The process is expected to take a week.

Rearden said the staff’s separate scores of each firm will then be combined at a ranking meeting held by the purchasing department.

If scores are too close to call, “we may call some of them in for personal interviews,” he said. “After all discussion, purchasing will open the bid proposals of short-listed firms and the group will decide the best qualified to recommend to (the Hall County Board of Commissioners.)”

South Hall Commissioner Craig Lutz, who has been pushing the process, said he will most likely see the bid package the Friday before the recommendation meeting.

“Staff will give a recommendation as to who they like and then typically, the commission will go through the bids and see if there’s anything that we see,” Lutz said.

“I’d say about 95 percent of the time we go with the staff’s recommendation.”

The recommendation meeting is expected to take place June 26, Rearden said.

“It’s exciting,” Lutz added about the park’s progress. “Things are starting to move, but until we get facilities ... bathrooms and a parking lot in, it’s not going to be much of a park.”

Groundbreaking on roads and parking for Cherokee Bluffs is expected by July 1.