When students return to the Lakeside school complex on Aug. 9, they’ll hear construction machinery running as work begins on a new athletic complex.
Columbia County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $3.1 million bid to Garnto and Gearig Bros. Construction of Evans for site preparation for the new park, which will be built on 70 acres near the school’s baseball field.
“This is about $1.7 million less than we had budgeted,” said Columbia County Construction and Maintenance Director Matt Schlachter. “We got some really good bids there.”
The project, announced a year ago as a joint venture between the county and the school system, had a projected price tag of $12 million, paid for from both entities’ sales tax funds.
Tuesday’s bid will pay for construction of a road onto the rear of the site along King Taylor Road from Evans-to-Locks Road. The park’s main entrance through the Lakeside High School and Lakeside Middle School campus won’t be built until the high school baseball field in its path is relocated, Schlachter said.
The first phase of construction also will include installation of water, sewer and stormwater systems and the rough grading of the entire site.
After Phase 1 is complete, work on the park’s facilities will be determined separately by the school board and county commissioners, with half of the park developed by each government but with all amenities shared after construction.
Final plans for the park include a new football stadium for Lakeside High School, new baseball, softball and soccer fields, track and field facilities, a tennis complex, playgrounds and walking trails.
Those trails will link the park to Reed Creek Nature Center on Furys Ferry Road by way of county-owned green space joining the two parks.
Construction is expected to begin in August and take about six months to complete, Schlachter said. Future construction isn’t expected to begin for at least another year.
In other commission action Tuesday:
• Commissioners announced that the county recently was notified that some disabled veterans have been overcharged for the past four years because of a mandated increase in the value of homestead exemptions.
Tax officials currently are calculating the amount of individual overcharges and plan to issue refund checks by November to the roughly 345 disabled veterans affected by the adjustment.
Those checks will average about $1,100, representing a total refund of more than $400,000 in overcharges from the past four years, said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
• Approved new, mostly higher, fees for Planning and Zoning while renaming the department Planning and Engineering.
• Approved rezonings for apartments on Old Evans Road. Because of new limits on apartment rezonings, the approval represents the last apartment rezonings that could be allowed in 2012. Commissioners also approved four other rezonings and tabled for two weeks the rezoning of 4470 Wrightsboro Road from residential to special district.
• Renewed the county’s funding agreement for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The agency, which is searching for a new executive director, is financed with a share of the county’s hotel-motel tax revenues.
• Implemented a new fee for rental of the cross country track at Blanchard Woods Park.