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State park on Lanier inching toward construction
Dirt could begin moving in November on Don Carter park

Plans for Don Carter State Park are moving along slowly but are on track to be advertised to contractors by the end of the month.

"They think they could begin the actual physical construction of the park in November, and the goal is to open the park in Spring 2013," said Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for the Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites Division of the DNR.

Department of Natural Resources officials are gathering information to obtain permitting from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the state park, which would be the first on Lake Lanier.

Representatives from Hall County Public Works are planning to contact the DNR to swap county and state land so North Browning Bridge Road, where the park is planned, can accommodate more traffic and larger recreational vehicles, Public Works Executive Director Ken Rearden said.

The two agencies will collaborate to widen the narrow, snaking, partially paved road that will run through the campground.

The site's infrastructure will be built from scratch, complete with paving roads and installing water, sewer and electrical lines. Construction costs are estimated at $11.3 million, said David Clark, DNR engineering and construction chief.

The bidding period for this sort of project is usually 30 days, he added, but that period might be extended due to the size of the job. Construction of docks, boat ramps and other amenities directly on or near the water are dependent on permission from the corps.

The estimated 1,040-acre park will offer an extensive visitor center, at least five cabins, tent sites, playgrounds, a « acre of beach, picnic shelters, docks with two boat ramps, recreational vehicle camp sites, comfort stations, a bath house and hiking and equestrian trails.

All those amenities bring some concerns from local residents, though.

Rearden said some living near the site have expressed concern that the park will disturb the otherwise pastoral landscape around the northern portion of Lake Lanier.

"The folks that live along this road are pretty much insisting that we do a traffic count or some kind of traffic study to analyze what the traffic's going to be," he said. "You know they're going to have RV campsites out there, so there's a lot of concern about those big RVs on this narrow, windy road."

Residents are especially worried about holiday weekend traffic and boat traffic, Rearden said.

Hatcher said the site for Don Carter State Park was chosen specifically for its serene atmosphere.

"It's on the northern part of Lake Lanier, which is actually the quieter part of Lanier," she said. "Lanier is a very popular, high-density lake, and this is going to give people a little bit quieter place to go on the lake and provide more parkland, more access to the water."