Editorial: Park Plans
An editorial from the Marietta Daily Journal on Sunday, July 26, 2009
Cobb voters had their priorities right in 2006 and 2008 when they approved a pair of parks bond referendums. And those designing one of the biggest park tracts bought with proceeds from the first of those referendums are getting their priorities in order as well.
The revised master plan for the sprawling Bullard-Stockton property at the intersection of Dallas Highway and Old Hamilton Road was unveiled at a public hearing Thursday night and was greeted with positive reviews all around. The initial plan by Lawrenceville-based Lose and Associates had a gazebo, bandstand and more than 600 parking spaces intended in large part as overflow parking for nearby Oregon Park. That led to creation of a 15-person committee of interested stakeholders to provide input into the final plan.
Bullard-Stockton was intended as a passive park, as opposed to a recreational, ball-field-dominated park like Oregon. So the revised plan takes that more into account.
One very significant change was the June decision by the county to acquire the 13.75-acre Swing Time driving range on Old Hamilton for $1.3 million. That property will act as a land bridge between the 112-acre Bullard and 44-acre Oregon parks, and will allow room for a parking lot for the adjacent parks.
"This plan is a thousand times better than the first plan," said west Cobb resident Sue Lake at the hearing. "This first plan had over 600 spaces. This one has only about 300 spaces. The previous plan had 12 to 14 different structures. This plan has far less structures and less disturbing of the natural features. I'm delighted that they're preserving this land, and that they're also preserving the house and barn."
The new plan brings Bullard's focus back to passive recreational use. Planned are almost seven miles of trails, including a 10-foot-wide pervious asphalt trail, and 8-foot crushed gravel trail and a 6-foot-wide nature trail.
"As the trail network gets in the more environmentally sensitive area it will change to compacted gravel trails and the mulch/dirt paths will be into some of the deeper parts of the property," explained Whit Alexander of Lose.
And it will be primarily a dawn-till-dusk park, meaning there will be little need to install lighting.
"The end result was what we all started out to do with the parks bond - preservation," said Parks Coalition and stakeholder committee member Jim Dugan. Added Paul Paulson, another stakeholder, "The first plan tried to make something of the property. This plan accentuates what's already there while preserving the essence of what Bullard means to the community."
Cost of the changes is estimated at around $3.5 million to $4 million, although those funds have yet to be identified in the budget due to the economy.
The plan appears to be a good one. The county deserves credit for listening to the public, and the stakeholders and others who have provided their input deserve the public's thanks.