By Shian Sivell
After a year of planning and public inquiry, Columbus-based Barge Design Solutions presented its master plan for Troup County Parks and Recreation Facilities to the Troup County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening. .
Steve Provost with Barge noted that the Troup County Parks and Recreation Department would need over 91 additional acres of land in the near future and at least 113 acres by 2034 to accommodate growth planned by the county and the types of activities desired by the population.
“[The] The department’s mission is to have quality, affordable recreation for all participants across the county,” Provost said. “This is done in the context of an ever-changing population. The population over the plan period is expected to increase by nearly 11%, and this is expected to include an increase in the population aged 55 or over of more than 6%. During this time, your 0-17 age bracket is likely to decrease by up to 4%. “
This indication came from community-wide public consultation sessions held over the past year in the form of focus groups, town hall meetings and online surveys.
According to information provided by Provost, 41% of the information was provided by residents of the town of LaGrange, while 37% was provided by unincorporated residents of Troup County. Hogansville and West Point residents accounted for 6% and 8% of entry results, respectively.
Provost’s key findings were that the county would immediately need six multipurpose courts, at least one outdoor basketball court, an off-leash dog park, and a sand volleyball court. By 2034, the county would need eight multipurpose courts, two baseball diamonds, two outdoor basketball courts, two off-leash dog parks, and two sand volleyball courts.
A ‘surprising’ discovery at the close of the information sessions was that most of the community wanted to include more recreational arts classes, such as pottery and painting classes. Programs like more community events and fitness and wellness programs were the second and third requests. Other requested programs included programs for people with special needs, more nature trails, swimming-related programs, and community garden programs.
“The community is really into non-traditional recreational activities in addition to sports and sports complexes,” Provost said.
Since the initial search was conducted, the county has since purchased nearly 100 acres of land at the former Whitesville Road School and the property off Pegasus Parkway where the new agricultural center is located. County Executive Eric Mosley noted that these investments potentially address aspects of wilderness that are of interest to community members.
“We are also managing a pond there, adding fishing opportunities as well,” Mosley added.
During research for the master plan, Barge visited all 32 facilities in Troup County to rank them according to their condition. Of those 32 facilities, eight were rated “poor,” Provost said.
“[The poor ranked facilities] they all had something in common, it’s all your small to mid-sized parks, your neighborhood parks,” Provost noted. “But the county is doing extremely well taking care of its sports complexes and active living centers, and many of those rated ‘excellent’.”
Barge’s initial recommendations were broken down for each of the county’s three towns.
The county-wide recommendations were aimed at addressing deferred maintenance issues including pool issues, providing art classes (pottery, painting, etc.), continuing improvements to Pyne Road Park and to build a sports complex for multi-purpose / football pitches.
Recommendations from the West Point area included incorporating an expressed desire for a recreation center, dog park, tennis courts, and walking and biking trails and adding programs such as tennis lessons and pickleball and horseback riding lessons. Barge also suggested a sports/special purpose park project at West Point.
Recommendations from the Hogansville area, including addressing the community’s desire for dog parks, an event center, and walking and biking trails (multi-use pavers) and providing more family-friendly programming. Barge also suggested building a community park in the northern part of Hogansville.
Recommendations from the LaGrange area included building more walking and biking facilities and adding washroom buildings, pavilion/picnic sites, and kayak/canoe access points.
Barge also suggested building a community park in the north and south portions of LaGrange due to population growth and expansion of the existing sports complex.
To link the county and the three towns together, Barge suggested a series of trails to further connect the parks in the towns and down to West Point Lake.
Barge recommends leaving the effort to cities to focus on small parks and trail connections and the county would focus on its sports complexes and active living facilities.
“The large-scale parks here are very well managed for a parks department that, compared to other similarly sized departments, uses less money to maintain than is normally recommended by record,” Provost said. “As the park system grows, what is critical is funding for maintenance and staffing to look after these parks. Although Troup County has high-quality parks, it underfunds its maintenance compared to other communities. »