County officials want to find out if there is enough demand to justify building a lodge and other amenities at Wildwood Park.
Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Director Barry Smith said an Atlanta consulting firm that developed two 20-year land-use plans for the park is soliciting bids for a professional study.
The study would determine whether a lodge and other amenity and infrastructure upgrades are warranted considering regional demand.
The study will include a market analysis and will take into consideration traffic counts, and will survey "regional facilities of the like and proposed size" to determine whether a Wildwood lodge would be successful, Smith said.
He said such a study is expected to cost between $20,000 and $25,000 and would take about a month.
At a July 10 committee meeting, Columbia County Commission heard two plan ideas that included a lodge with either 100 or 300 rooms. It agreed that more discussion was needed to determine an appropriate size for the lodge.
Smith said the study would determine whether a lodge is merited, its size, types and numbers of potential lodge users and an average room cost per night.
The county commission reviewed a land-use plan July 10 that included a golf course for the 975-acre park. Ultimately, Smith said, the commission preferred the second plan, which was without a golf course and would keep most of the park's land undeveloped.
"They did see that (a golf course) would fit, but it would encroach on some of the horse trails if it were implemented," he said.
The plans also included a festival area, cabins and improvements to roadways and the park's entrance to permit easy access into the facility during events such as the several bass fishing tournaments held at Wildwood each year, Smith said.
County officials say the lodge would be a public-private partnership with a major hotel chain or other private investor.
"(The county) would supply (an investor) with the property and would assist with some of the preliminary site work, but they would basically be the entity to build the lodge itself and they would manage it," Smith said.
"It's a beautiful facility and if we had more amenities it would be used more," he said. "It would be great to have amenities that would generate revenue."
To build a lodge, significant infrastructure upgrades, such as sanitary sewer lines, would be needed, he said.
"There are a lot of issues of wastewater disposal and treatment," Smith said. "It's a big, big hurdle that needs to be assessed and reviewed.:
News Editor Preston Sparks contributed to this article.
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