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Back to the Drawing Board

"It seems like we're spending $7 million for five ball fields," council member Bob Rush said of the latest design for the 60-acre Etowah River Park. "I just feel we're not getting what we hoped to get."

This afternoon, the is scheduled to discuss the design of several parks it plans to fund through a parks bond.

's Etowah River Park is one of them.

Some city council members said when the park was first presented to them, it had a lot of bells and whistles.

There were lighted soccer fields, baseball fields, trails and a bridge over the river to connect the park to . 

"Gradually," council member Bob Rush said during the council's Thursday work session, "this thing has diminished. It seems like we're spending $7 million for five ball fields. ... I just feel we're not getting what we hoped to get."

It was for that reason that the city decided to take another look at plans for the 60-acre park.

County manager Jerry Cooper could not be reached for comment, but Cherokee was ready to solicit bids for the project. All it was waiting on was the OK from Canton before today's commission meeting.

"What is embarrassing to me," city manager Scott Wood said, "and probably ought to be embarrassing to everybody up here is that in June of last year, those designers showed us that plan right there on that screen. ... If we're now deciding that it doesn't work, man, where have we been all of this time?"

Council member Jack Goodwin said the latest incarnation of Etowah River Park may not have everything the city envisioned, but there's nothing stopping Canton from adding amenities after it is built.

"Baseball has suffered for a long time here," he said. "They've had over a 1,000 kids for many years," but only a few fields to use for play.

It's time to proceed, he and council members Pat Tanner and Amelia Rose said.

"We have the park," Tanner said. "We have the funding for it. We don't have any really active parks in this city and we have a great need on behalf of our children to get some active parks here in the city."

But officials said those children would be better served by a new design that meets the needs of the entire community.

"We ought to do it right," Mayor Gene Hobgood said, "even if it takes more time."

Editor's note: Read what Canton resident and Canton-Sixes Patch Local Voices blogger John Rust .

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