More than 40 residents of Columbia County attended a public meeting at the Evans Government Center on Sept. 19 to provide their comments and input to the Evans Town Center Park Conceptual Plan. They recognized that the park would be a great asset to our community and had a favorable view of the purchase and development of this park. The attendees provided their verbal and written comments to the director of Columbia County Community and Leisure Services.
My review of the plan revealed that the park did not include many attributes found at other parks I have visited. The park seemed to lack a focal point. For example, the water fountain is located next to Ronald Reagan Drive and not in the center of the park. The bike trail crossing at North Belair Road is not located at a traffic light, creating a safety concern. There are no gazebos or pavilion. The plan does not have sufficient playgrounds for the children and has one restroom which is located some distance for the playground. The plan calls for two large open areas, including an Olympic-size soccer field.
Presently Columbia County has six soccer fields (five fields in Patriots Park and one in Blanchard Park). In September 2006, five more soccer fields will be available in Blanchard Woods Park and there are plans to build more soccer fields there in the future. The planner should delete the soccer field from the conceptual plan because other nearby fields will be available when this park is developed. This park should not be used for team practices or sporting events.
By eliminating the soccer field, the opens spaces could be partially closed with rose and flower gardens, azaleas, hedges, crepe myrtles and other small growing plants which would keep the space open, but add more vegetation and beauty to the park.
The planners should consider including a carillon in the center of the park like the one at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta. This would provide the residents with something special they can enjoy.
It appears that the Conceptual Plan does not provide the state of the art park our residents deserve and expect. Consideration should be given to using the park for passive recreation rather than athletic events. Sporting events would be a distraction to those who visit the park to enjoy its beauty and peaceful surroundings. It also poses problems for the county to accommodate the various athletic teams who may want to use this space for practice and competition.
To ensure the final plan provides a state of the art park we deserve, a citizens committee of 10 or 12 residents should be appointed by the County Commission to oversee the planning and final approval of the park.
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