Cherokee Forces Change to Nelson Park Plan

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Cherokee County denied the City of Nelson approval of part of its plan for park renovations this week. During the September 4th city council meeting, council member Duane Cronic explained that Cherokee County Capital Program Director Bill Echols informed Cronic the requested basketball court renovations could not be honored.

Previously, Neslon was allotted $200,000 from Cherokee County from a parks bond for park renovations. In the August meeting, council voted on allocations of funds for specific projects for the renovations. From the $200,000, council decided to use $45,000 for the nature trails at the main park; $68,000 to extend the gravel driveway and parking lot; $35,000 to replace the play ground equipment, and $50,000 to renovate the existing basket ball court. At the time, Council Member Duane Cronic stressed that a handicap accessible restroom facility would also be needed at the park, which he said could be funded by SPLOST money. The total of the project list is $198,000, leaving $2000 for the restroom facility, a project including installation of a septic line. Council submitted the request to Cherokee before the August 13th deadline.

During the September meeting, however, Cronic said he had received a letter from Mr. Echols recommending alternatives to the basketball renovations. Cronic read the letter to the council.

“The basketball court,”

he read,

“is, we believe, within the stream buffer. And, as such, we have ordered a jurisdictional water study at the cost of $1500 to be charged against the Nelson overall budget. This should not be an issue as the total budget held line-item contingencies for this sort of work.”

The letter goes on to say that the state will not allow a new court or renovations in the area, due to the stream of the parallel area of the basketball court. Echols also said that this was always a concern, but didn’t see it as a priority, so allowed it to remain on the list. In his letter, he then recommended a redirected plan list, which Cronic read as follows: 1) Add $10,000 to the playground equipment for a total of $45,000 2) Use $5000 for new park signage 3) Add $30,000 to play ground grating work associated with the parking lot, which will include a sidewalk to the play area. 4) Include a four-board fence around the park along School Street to protect kids in the play area. This will include grating for the playground from the pavilion and restroom area. The last option is allocate $5,000 for the demolition of the basketball court, leave an open green space in its place.

“What he’s saying,”

Cronic said,

“is that the basketball court, according to code, shouldn’t be there…Unfortunately, because of that they cannot spend a dime of the money to fix it.”

Additionally, Cronic addressed the restroom facility, which was one of the selected projects. In last month’s meeting, council agreed to ask Cherokee to design a restroom facility for the park. According to the letter from Echols, Cronic explained that Cherokee would design the facility, but would charge Neslon for the design for the restrooms whether it decided to build it or not. The money, he said, would come out of the park bond budget.

Cronic said bidding for the park plan begins in November, so council will have to make decision on the plan next month.

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