A project to bring a passive park and baseball fields to the city of Canton can now finally proceed.
The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract with Georgia Development Partners LLC to construct the Etowah River Park for $3.38 million.
It also approved a contract with W.E. Contracting to build the baseball fields adjacent to Kenney Askew Park for $3.1 million.
Both contracts were approved unanimously by four commissioners, but District 3 Commissioner Brian Poole abstained from the votes.
Both parks would be funded out of the city's portion of the county's $90 million parks bond voters approved in 2008.
Construction for both parks is expected to start in February and is expected to take a year to complete.
The Etowah River Park, which would be built at the end of Brown Industrial Parkway off Highway 20 near exit 19 off Interstate 575, would have mostly passive features such as an Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible concrete walking path, multi-purpose fields, a restroom and concessions building, an event lawn and parking.
The baseball complex would include five baseball fields, concessions and restroom buildings, parking spaces, bleachers, benches, a free-standing score board at each field, chain-link dugouts and sports field lighting.
The fields would be used by Canton Dizzy Dean Baseball, which currently uses older fields at Harmon Field in Canton.
Canton would maintain and operate the Etowah River Park while Dizzy Dean will maintain and operate the ball fields.
The parks' development have been a long time coming.
Initially, the Etowah River Park, including the baseball fields, was slated to be built off Brown Industrial Parkway.
However, the original price tag for the park was higher than expected and the land was determined to be a flood plain, making the site unsuitable for baseball fields.
Cherokee County came up with a solution to place the fields on land it purchased from the Killian family next to Kenney Askew Park near the Mimms Boys & Girls Club.
The city and county also couldn't agree on whether the county would pay for certain portions of the project or if it would be taken out of the city's portion of the parks bond.
District 1 County Commissioner Harry Johnston, who has been the point person on the commission negotiating with the city, said the county is really getting two parks for the price of one.
He also said the parks have been a long time coming.
"It’s kind of a miracle (that) we’ve managed to pull them out of a hat," he said.
Johnston said that through "great diplomacy," the county and the city were able to come together and get both projects off the ground.
District 4 Commissioner Jason Nelms agreed.
"This is a good thing for the county," he added.
In other business, the county commission also:
- announced it changed the location of its annual retreat; instead of holding their retreat at Barnsley Gardens, the commissioners will utilize the lake house of Commissioner Johnston at 9300 Lisa Circle in Gainesville;
- approved a 2013 tax anticipation note, which represents a temporary loan $1,264,900 to be received in January and paid off in December with a 4.5 percent interest rate; and
- approved a professional services agreement with Rhonda D. McClendon & Associates to perform a forensic audit related to the Ball Ground Recycling project in the amount of $75,000 and for the commission to authorize additional funds if necessary.