Rome officials have just under six months to decide what they’re going to do with Eagle Park.
The three-acre park on Forsyth Street returned to the Rome Floyd Parks and Recreation roster June 1 after five years under lease to Greater Refuge Ministries church. It was a neighborhood park in 2014, but no money has been spent on it since then.
During a Joint Services Committee meeting last week, city and county officials agreed that it won’t go into the Parks and Rec budget until Jan. 1, 2020.
However, it’s unclear if it will remain a passive greenspace or be upgraded with amenities such as picnic tables, basketball courts and a playground.
The Rome City Commission budgets extra funds for capital improvements to parks inside the city limits. But at an April planning retreat the board was split on what to do with the returning Eagle Park.
“We’ll be meeting with the neighbors to get ideas of what they want to see there,” City Manager Sammy Rich said at the Joint Services meeting.
What is clear is that neither the city nor Parks and Rec have immediate funds to tap.
“It’s probably about $40,000 a year just to cut the grass,” Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter observed.
Mayor Bill Collins and Commission Chair Scotty Hancock agreed that their public works crews would take turns maintaining the park until the new year. After that the plan, whatever it turns out to be, will start to be reflected in the city and Parks & Rec budgets.
“It’s going to take multiple years,” Rich cautioned.
“Just make it safe and start rotating it in,” Floyd County Commissioner Wright Bagby said.
The park, surrounded by homes, had been somewhat of a hot spot for trouble when Greater Refuge Ministries took on the lease.
Teens — including groups from out of town — often gathered at night in large groups and police were familiar with the area.
The Rev. Terri Mayes had plans to maintain about an acre of the park as a neighborhood playground.
The other 2 acres would have been used as parking for a new sanctuary and fellowship hall in a warehouse next to the park, but the building caught fire just four months into the church’s new project.