Henry County last developed a master parks plan in 1974. After more than two years of discussion about the topic, that will change in 2023. County commissioners approved hiring Perez Planning + Design to create the master park plan at the January 17 board meeting.
Perez Planning + Design, LLC of Atlanta, GA has extensive experience developing park plans. Past work includes Gwinnett County, the city of Atlanta and Buckhead Community Improvement District.
Master Parks Plan
Perez Planning will develop Henry County’s park plan at a cost of $265,500. The plan will complete the following objectives:
- Through public input, identify unmet current and future needs in the parks system.
- Prioritize park improvements, development and potential future park acquisitions.
- Evaluate staffing and funding needs along with strategies.
- Prepare final document organized such that it can be presented and adopted by the Henry County Board of Commissioners.
To accomplish this, the consultant will complete an inventory of the existing parks. Public input will also be an extensive part of the plan. Public feedback will help identify what residents want to see from their parks in different areas of the county.
Financial analysis is another key component. The plan will provide funding recommendations how to pay for park improvements. Historically, SPLOST dollars have been the primary funding source for new parks. The general fund pays for park repairs and upkeep.
Development impact fees paid by new housing are a possible funding source for park improvements. The county recently updated its impact fee ordinance for the first time in twenty years. The new higher fees take effect beginning in February.
The estimated timeframe to complete the plan is 290 days. The final plan is expected before the end of 2023.
Reconsideration from 2020
Henry County commissioners considered hiring Perez Planning to complete a master parks plan in September 2020. At the time, the cost was $99,500. The board tabled the item and it didn’t come back up.
The $165 thousand dollar difference was not lost on Commissioner Dee Anglyn. “That is time that cost us a lot of money,” remarked Anglyn. “For our constituents, they can hold us accountable for the plan that they can see. Right now, they see no plan. We have no plan…A plan is extremely valuable.”
“Right now, what we’re doing is haphazard. We [are] running from one park priority to another park priority,” said County Manager Cheri Matthews. “We [have] to assess what our priorities are. [The county has] to have a plan. We cannot operate off a parks plan from 1974. If we don’t start here, [then] we cannot continue to run from one park project to another park project without a plan.”
Commissioner Clemmoms echoed her agreement with the county manager’s comments and full support for the master parks plan. She later motioned to hire the consultant. The board unanimously approved the contract.
Featured image shows a park concept plan. Perez Planning + Design photo.
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