Holly Hess (left), 15, looks at the preliminary master plan for Blanchard Woods Park with her mother, Chris. Columbia County residents had an oppourtunity to review the plan and offer suggestions recently. The park is expected to take three years to complete.
Photo by Quandra Collins
More than 50 Columbia County residents crammed into an Evans Government Complex conference room recently to review a master plan for Blanchard Woods Park.
"We are real pleased," said Glenn Morgan, an Evans resident. "I think (the county) is doing a nice job. I wish we would have had this (park) when my children were young."
His friend, Joe Blanchard, of Evans, agreed.
"This is something the county is going to be proud of," he said. "I don't think we could be any happier."
Mark Chostner, manager for the county's Construction and Maintenance Services Facility Planning and Construction Department, said the purpose of the public meeting was to hear such responses and concerns from county residents.
"We want residents to look at the (master plan) design, fill out a survey and tell us what they like," he said.
A second similar public meeting was to be held later in November, said Barry Smith, the division director for the county's Community and Leisure Services Department. The meeting, he said, was to be the final decision-maker for the final master plan of the 150-acre recreational facility.
"We're going to take all the comments and tweak the plan to accommodate all (residents') comments," he said. "This is their park, and we want to hear their feedback. Their comments drive what goes into the park."
A majority of residents at an Oct. 26 meeting wanted to know about the proposed soccer fields.
"We desperately need more soccer fields," Tammy Shepherd, of Evans, said, adding that there are not enough fields at Patriots Park, where her son, Jake, practices and plays the sport. "The county needs to be quicker about completing the park like they were when Patriots Park was built."
In the first phase, Smith said, six soccer fields will be built, adding that he plans for the first phase to be completed in the fall of 2006.
As more money is approved, Smith said, the hope is that the entire park can be completed in the next three years.
The park, which had its preliminary master plan submitted by the Augusta firm Johnson Laschober and Associates in August, is an $8 million project.
It is funded mostly by the county's special purpose local option sales tax.
The site will incorporate different amenities, such as a BMX bicycle and skate course, eight to 10 soccer fields, a cross country walking trail, and a playground and splash pad for children.
Residents can fill out and submit a survey form of the master plan online by visiting www.columbiacountyga.gov. For more information, call 868-3484.
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