The Cherokee County Recreation and Parks program, already rated the best of all large counties in Georgia, continues to move forward.
The Board of Commissioners received a report at the May 3 meeting from the public conceptual input process for three future parks in northeast Cherokee — Long Swamp Creek Recreation Area, Yellow Creek Road and E.W. and Edith Cochran Park. We also approved a contract for Phase 1 construction of the new park in southwest Cherokee.
The southwest park site is on Highway 92, near Hunt Road. The county bought the property more than 10 years ago using park bond funds. It’s adjacent to a site proposed for development as a shopping, dining and entertainment center. Based on public input during an earlier conceptual design process, Phase 1 of the park will include parking, a playground, an open-events and free-play area, a pavilion and a walking trail. We hope to start construction late this year.
The first of the three parks in northeast Cherokee expected to be developed is a 24-acre tract where Long Swamp Creek enters the Etowah River, near Highway 372 in Ball Ground. It’s believed to have been the site of an Indian mound; a visitors center there will pay tribute to that Native American heritage. The park will include a canoe/kayak launch, an open meadow and pollinator garden, and an archery range. This will be a relatively low-cost park. Detailed design is expected next year, with construction in 2024.
The second site is the 538-acre Yellow Creek Road conservation area, also on the Etowah River. Most of the site will be split between mountain bike trails on the lower and steeper part of the property, and equestrian and hiking trails on the less-steep upper section. The plan calls for 10 miles of each type of trail, with no overlapping of the two. There will be a horse corral adjacent to the parking area, for riders who want to camp in their trailers overnight, and a second corral with a campsite at the far end of the trail, for those who want to ride or hike in. In addition, there will be a river walk trail and river access for canoes and kayaks. The current plan is to begin construction in 2027, but the commissioners have expressed interest in accelerating that schedule to allow volunteer trail-building efforts to begin.
The third northeast property will become Cochran Park. It’s a 102-acre site adjacent to the site of the planned new Free Home Elementary School, which will be just behind the current facility. This park will include an 18-hole disc golf course, an open-events and free-play area, a pond, a dog park, a cross-country running course, walking trails and paved bicycle trails. The open green will be big enough that it can be converted into one or more ball fields, if and when there’s demand for them. As the most expensive of the three northeast parks to build, this one probably won’t start construction until 2027.
We already have the best parks and recreation facilities in the state of Georgia, and, with the addition of these new parks, we will have even more available for the enjoyment of the residents of Cherokee County.
As always, I’m interested in your thoughts on these and other subjects. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Harry Johnston is chairman of the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners. He’s a retired CPA and accounting manager, and a former district commissioner.