The plan is to eventually transform Columbia County's Wildwood Park to include a disc golf clubhouse, a newly designed entrance, better roadways and dozens of cabins.
Barry Smith, Columbia County director of Community and Leisure Services (left) and Chip Mobley, Columbia County construction project manager, look over the progress on the pavilion and restrooms being built at the boat ramps at Wildwood Park.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
First, though, Columbia County officials want the public's input on a recently released master plan for the park.
"We certainly want to incorporate different features that will accommodate their needs," said Barry Smith, of the county's Community and Leisure Services department. "We'll mull over (public comments) and make changes to the master plan to incorporate public input."
Residents will have their first chance to look over the master plan at a town meeting at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Evans Government Complex's Building A auditorium. A second meeting will take place sometime in September.
What residents will see is an artist's rendering recently compiled by the Athens, Ga., firm Chasman & Associates. The master plan will cost about $20 million to be fully implemented and will be phased in.
Wildwood Park, a 975-acre park located on Thurmond Lake in northern Columbia County, is open to the public at a cost of $3 without a boat and $5 with a boat. The charge for those with a boat increased by $2 four months ago, Smith said.
Already, a first phase improvement to the park - including the addition of a boat dock - has occurred with the help of about $1 million from the county's current special purpose local option sales tax.
Some of the remaining projects in the park's master plan will now be funded using $1 million from the county's next special purpose sales tax, which was recently approved by voters.
Those funds won't be available until 2006, Smith said, adding that the special sales tax will have to be continued beyond five years to complete all of the park's master plan.
"I'm sure it will take two more SPLOST referendums to implement the plan," he said.
The first project to get underway using the next special sales tax will be a clubhouse for the Professional Disc Golf Association, which is relocating its headquarters from Toronto, Canada to Wildwood Park.
"The very first priority would be to build a $300,000 clubhouse for the Disc Golf Association," he said. "Currently, we've offered them the rangers cottage as temporary headquarters."
The Association is expected to build two disc golf courses possibly within the next year, but Smith said there has been a delay lately, with some of the association's officials in Toronto having visa problems.
Also, using $120,000 in remaining funds from the park's current special purpose sales tax money, Smith said new restrooms at the park's boat ramps will be completed by the end of the year.
Using $1 million from the next sales tax, Smith said officials also might be able to start work on a new entrance to the park and begin construction on as many as eight cabins. Ultimately, the goal is have 46 cabins available for visitors at the park. Officials also would like to start at least one major Wildwood Park project a year.
Judging by demand at Mistletoe State Park in Appling, Smith said the cabins should generate a lot of revenue for the county.
"Mistletoe Park has cabins, and they're booked up almost two years ahead of time," he said. "I think they'll be well used by the public (at Wildwood)."
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