The Cherokee Recreation and Parks Advisory Board heard the latest update on the agency’s master plan at its most recent meeting last week.
During the review of the Recreation, Parks, Green Space and Trails Master Plan, CRPA Director Bryan Reynolds said there are a handful of projects in the agency pipeline currently moving forward. They include: The L. B. Ahrens Recreation Center (aka “The Buzz”) at Cherokee Veterans Park; the McGraw Ford boat launch; and the effort to have the agency receive national accreditation.
Plans for construction of the new recreation center will be moving from the schematic design phase to the design development phase within the next couple of weeks, according to Reynolds, meaning the county could submit the project for permitting as early as February.
The boat launch at McGraw Ford on Georgia Highway 372 near Ball Ground, being constructed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, has been submitted to all necessary parties for permit review, with the current timetable looking like it will be completed in 2020 as well. Lastly, Reynolds said he would be meeting with the agency’s leadership team this week for a kickoff meeting to launch the national accreditation process. He explained the entire process takes between 18 months and two years to complete and requiring the agency to meet an overwhelming majority of 140 detailed standards, but by obtaining national accreditation, CRPA would be rated among the top 2 perfent of all parks and recreation departments in the country.
“This is our first time going for it,” Reynolds told the advisory board, adding that, whether or not an agency receives national accreditation, one positive that comes out of attempting to achieve this rating is that it helps make the agency better in the process.
Reynolds provided a handful of additional updates to the advisory board, including how the county is examining its options for the small tract of park land next to the former Buffington Elementary School. The Cherokee County School District has put the school building and property on the market.
Reynolds told board members the format for Play Cherokee magazine will be changing starting this upcoming year, with only two issues coming out each year instead of four, but the publishing company that prints the magazine would be taking care of all the design and layout, along with selling ads, of which the county would receive 40 percent of the revenue from.
A pavilion at the tennis and pickleball courts at Cherokee Veterans Park has been completed, with the benches for it scheduled to arrive within the next couple of weeks, Reynolds said.
The final update Reynolds gave to the advisory board was that, in the time frame between the board’s August and October meetings, the county had the opportunity to purchase 23 acres of land along Ga. Highway 372 at the bridge over the Etowah River to turn into more park space. Although the county is exploring a multitude of possibilities on what can be done with the site, Reynolds said there is space there for both active and passive recreation, and the potential to even link it via hiking trails to downtown Ball Ground.
The next meeting of the Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency Advisory Board will be at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11.