TSW scheduled its next meeting for public input on Forsyth’s parks on Tuesday, April 16 from 1-7 p.m. at Alderman Hall, adjacent to the Welcome Center where the city’s administrative offices are presently located. It will be a drop-in format, with TSW representatives available with diagrams of proposed plans for the parks to answer questions and record comments and suggestions from the public.
Forsyth held its first public meeting with TSW, the company selected to design a Master Plan for the city’s six parks, on March 14. TSW representatives, Adam Williamson and Beverly Bell, presented an overview of the existing amenities at the city’s parks and what they anticipate designing and recommending to expand, enhance and upgrade the parks.
The Dog Parks got emphasis since Monroe County commissioners required a Dog Park as a stipulation in returning the 15-plus acres next to Country Club Park to the city to develop for recreation. The TSW plan is to develop one park for small dogs and another park for large dogs. Williamson asked Hall whether Forsyth has more large or small dogs; she said she doesn’t have any data to answer that.
Williamson said the initial plan is .4 acres for the small dog park and .45 acres for the large dog park with room to extend to .75 acres. He said large dogs need more room to run and exercise. The preliminary sketch has the dog parks near the pavilion in an area accessible to water, parking and shade. In response to a question from a council member, Williamson said he does not anticipate an offensive odor from the dog park because owners are required to clean up after their dogs in the park.
Forsyth CVB Director Gilda Stanbery said that she has used dog parks at various locations and considers availability of benches and of water for both humans and dogs to be important components of a good dog park. Bell said shredded mulch is a better base for dog parks than grass. TSW plans separate entrances for the two dog parks, double gated for security. There will be water fountains for both people and dogs and boulders and jumps for dogs to play. A concrete wash-off area is also planned. Council member Chris Hewett asked that the dog parks be kept to one side of the walking trail.
“I would like to see them completed, not just started, in six months,” said Wilson. “We can start with the basic components and add on. The dog parks will generate interest in the whole park.”
Council member Mike Dodd said there are a lot of pet-friendly groups in Monroe County, such as, Save-A-Pet, and the city should reach out to them to get input on the dog parks.
An important element of TSW creating the Master Plan is input from citizens as to what they want and will use in their city parks. However, only government officials attended the meeting on March 14. It included site visits to the six parks to look at the existing facilities and the lay of the land that TSW will be working with in its design. Only City Manager Janice Hall accompanied Williamson and Bell on the site visits, although everyone was invited to do so.
When Bell and Williamson visited the proposed site for the dog parks at Country Club Park, they found that the land is not level. There is a fairly steep drop off at the back of the Skate Park. They said they can probably put the dog parks in the same area, but some adjustments will be needed. They said they did not have a topographical map when they drew the initial plans.
“This is more complicated than I thought,” said Williamson. “But it always is.”
It is hoped that people who plan to use the parks will come tell Bell and Williamson what they want at the April 16 drop-in meeting.
“If they’re aware and don’t come, it’s a vote of confidence in us to make the decisions,” said Wilson.
Those present at the kickoff meeting with TSW for the Master Park Plan were Wilson, Hall, council members Melvin Lawrence, Chris Hewett, Mike Dodd and John Howard, CVB Director Gilda Stanbery and Monroe County Commission Chair Greg Tapley.
TSW is charged with developing a master plan that includes all six of Forsyth’s city parks, with the majority of the work to be at Country Club Park incorporating the 15-plus acres acquired from the county. The plan will be a multi-phase plan, possibly spaced over 10 years or more, which takes into consideration funds that are available and are anticipated in the future. Hall said Forsyth anticipates having about $300,000 per year from property tax to use toward developing the parks but also plans to pursue some grants for park improvements and expansion.
Visions for Country Club Park include a new main entrance road off Ensign Road instead of Country Club Drive, an amphitheater for concerts and events, a new parking area, soccer fields, more walking trails, upgraded playground equipment and restroom facilities. The park has recently added a skate park and splash pad and has refurbished restrooms and a concession area ready to open at the splash pad this season. Weather permitting, the splash pad will be open for Spring Break the first week of April. It will then probably be open on weekends until school is out for the summer.
Hill Street Park and Milledge Circle Park are two city parks in neighborhoods that primarily serve the people who live around them. The two parks are about three blocks apart. Both parks have basketball courts, some playground equipment and picnic tables. Milledge Circle Park has grills and a small path for walking, but its property lines are not well defined. The basketball courts need re-surfacing and the playground equipment needs updating. Both parks need signage to let more people know they exist. The parks are near the KOA campground; it was suggested that brochures be placed at KOA inviting visitors to come to them. Howard said the city needs to talk to neighbors in the area of the parks and find out what they want and would use in the parks.
Lee Street Park is next to the Welcome Center and Alderman Hall. It has recently been re-done and has a pavilion, shaded benches, irrigation and a butterfly garden. Hall said the only thing that needs to be done at Lee Street Park is to extend the storage building.
Park Circle Park is open space not far from Country Club Park. The Forsyth Tree Board has planted a variety of trees, installed irrigation and placed plaques with the trees identifying them. Possible additions to enhance Park Circle Park could be a walking trail, benches and/or a gazebo.
Kynette Park has a basketball court, large playground, pavilion, baseball field, picnic tables, bathrooms and a neighborhood center. It needs shade for the playground and baseball field bleachers. The basketball court needs resurfacing, and the parking lot needs re-striping. There is not good access to the restrooms or parking from the baseball field. Possible additions are a walking trail and a small splash pad.
TSW will hold three public hearings for input as they design the long range master plan for the six parks. They may have meetings at the individual parks if there is enough interest.