Lakeside park partnership moves forward
A year ago, the Columbia County Board of Education and the Columbia County Board of Commissioners announced a joint venture to develop a park and athletic complex at Lakeside High School. Now, the first phase of the $12 million project is set to begin.
Commissioners recently approved a $3.1 million bid for site preparation, which Construction and Maintenance Director Matt Schlachter said was $1.7 million less than budgeted.
“It’s all the rough grading for all future buildings, stadiums and whatnot,” Schlachter said. “It’s going to provide the infrastructure, which is the waterlines and sewer lines and storm drainage. It’s also going to include a parking lot and the main road through the park.”
Basically, the site will be fully prepped and ready to be built on, and while it won’t have the nice manicured grass of the area’s more developed parks, nor for the time being will it have irrigation, Schlachter said it will be a grassy space useable for a variety of different activities.
“So basically, you’ll have a road and 50 acres of greenspace where people can go out and throw a Frisbee, hit a baseball or a golf ball — that kind of thing,” he said. “You’ll be able to see where the soccer fields will go — they’ll be graded, they just won’t have the nice turf and they won’t have the goals and lights.”
In other words, it will soon be a park without the final touches like Kroger Field, the park across from the Judicial Center in Evans that became the very developed Evans Towne Center Park.
The final touches will come later and they will be significant — five soccer fields, a playground, tennis courts and a walking trail for the county’s portion, a new football stadium, a baseball field, a softball field and a practice field for the Board of Education portion.
“The total parcel of land is about 70 acres,” Schlachter said. “We’re only going to be impacting a little under 50.”
Commissioners plan to donate the additional 20 acres owned by the county to the greenspace program, and because it abuts an additional 20 acres already in the program, the county will end up having 40 contiguous acres dedicated to greenspace.
“I was back there one day last week,” Schlachter said. “There are some beautiful views back in there. It ought to be a nice place fore people to go and enjoy nature.”
Schlachter said that unless commissioners decide to move it elsewhere, the money saved by the low bid will stay attached to the park project, which at one time had the possibility of a BMX track being attached to it. Regardless of the extra money, Schlachter said that idea is no longer still being considered for that location.
What will be part of the park complex, however, are improvements to the traffic flow, which was already congested.
“We have an ongoing design right now,” Schlachter said. “We’re probably 90 percent done with our design to improve King Taylor Road just to get it widened out so it can take the traffic.”
To alleviate congestion around the school, Schlachter said the new road being built within the park will be tied to the Board of Education’s campus, which will allow a through connection.
Currently, the road goes through the existing baseball field, and they won’t move it until they have a new place to put the field.
Schlachter expected the first phase to take approximately six months to complete, but said he couldn’t put a timetable on anything coming after.
“We’re coming up with cost estimates for what it would take to finish the park out,” he said. “We’ll present that to the commissioners and they’ll decide if they want to move forward with it.” You Might Also Like: