Canton Firms Up Etowah River Park Wish List

The council this morning directed the city manager to spell out its wishes in a letter to the county.

Over the years, movement on a city-county park project has been delayed by revisions and other hiccups.

During a special called meeting today, the Canton City Council decided to "stick to its guns" and tell the county that it wants $3.1 million to build the long-awaited Etowah River Park, which will be paid for through the county's $90-million parks bond program.

Council members also finalized a list of extras that they say the county must incorporate in the park.

They want a bridge over the Etowah River. They want lighting. They want irrigation. And they want playgrounds.

"Do your hard numbers," Council member Bob Rush said. "Do your bids. But if we can’t get a million dollars extra for the things that we need to put in the park, then we don’t want it."

The council this morning directed the city manager to spell out its wishes in a letter to the county, which will meet at 10 a.m. next Thursday to discuss the Etowah River Park. 

When the park was first presented to the council, 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 .

When those things didn't show up in a design in July 2011, the just as Cherokee was ready to solicit bids for the park.

There were problems with the site, too. The Etowah River Park location at Brown Industrial Parkway is in a floodplain.

"That ... limits (the) size (of the baseball fields) because they'd have to be elevated by about six feet," Commissioner Harry Johnston said in October 2011.

In February,  that included two separate parks.

Because the Etowah site at Brown Industrial Parkway wasn't appropriate for five baseball fields, Johnston proposed building the fields on county-owned property near Kenney Askew Park. Johnston said it would cost $2.7 million to construct the fields there. "That is about $1 million less than what the Etowah Park would've cost," Johnston said at the time.

The council approved the plan, which included a $2.1 million passive park at the proposed Etowah River Park location, at its Feb. 16 meeting.

At the time, Cherokee County Capital Projects Director Bill Echols said that the project would be ready to go to bid this month or next month.

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