Thursday, July 16, 2009

Landowners flood parks bond hearing

From the Marietta Daily Journal on Wednesday, April 23, 2009 by Ashley Hungerford, MDJ staff writer.

MARIETTA - Tuesday's parks bond hearing felt more like a real-estate forum, with more than 80 landowners lining up to speak on why the committee should recommend purchase of their property.

"Given its natural beauty, size and border with Lost Mountain park, this would be an asset for Cobb County," Catherine Bella said of her family's 141-acre Kyle Farm.

Catherine Hudson's property, on Turner Lake Road in north Cobb, includes a large lake.

"Everyone who fished it has said it's some of the best fishing in the county," she vowed. "We've enjoyed it for 40 years, and we'd like the citizens of Cobb to enjoy it for years to come."

Speakers had PowerPoint presentations, petitions and handouts ready to aid their sales pitches. So many people turned out, in fact, that citizens committee chairman John Pape limited the number of speakers to 50. Each speaker had three minutes to make his or her case.

Another hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. on May 4, for those who didn't get a chance to speak Tuesday. The meeting will again be conducted in the Board of Commissioners meeting room.

Wylene Tritt, who owns 54 acres on Roswell Road next to East Cobb Park, also spoke Tuesday night. Hers was the only top-tier property recommended by the first citizens committee that was not purchased.

"I would like the county to have my property so the park would be big enough for all the residents in the area to enjoy," she said.

The citizens committee is reviewing the 272 nominated parcels that have willing sellers, and will make a recommendation to the Board of Commissioners later this year on which should be purchased using the $40 million in bond money. Voters approved the bond on Nov. 4.

Many of the speakers Tuesday said public purchase of their land would keep developers at bay.

"My plan is to develop it with residential homes if it's not turned into a park," Ron Mann said of his nominated property at 1910 Milford Church Road in Marietta.

Others professed their area was in need of a park.

"This land is ... green and beautiful with Sewell Mill Creek running right through it, and there is a great need in east Cobb for small parks like this," said Ann Russ, regarding land on Sewell Mill Road.

Committee Vice Chairwoman Joni House said the public hearing further emphasizes citizen involvement in choosing new parks.

"People are leaving a green space legacy," she said.


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