Grading for Euharlee's Joe Cowan Park nears completion
by Amanda Ryker
Dec 28, 2011 | 3137 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grading for the new 53-acre Joe Cowan Park will soon be completed. Plans for the park include four baseball/softball fields and a walking trail. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Euharlee residents along Euharlee Five Forks Road can expect to see a change in their area in the upcoming weeks as grading for the new Joe Cowan Park is coming to a close.

"It's a pretty 53 acres," Ron Goss, planning and zoning administrator, said. "It's not just flat land. It rolls. It's not just thrown together. The city has put a lot of thought into it to do it the right way."

The park, which was originally scheduled for a previous Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax project, had been put on hold due to low funding. Earlier this year, funding for Phase I of the construction was made available and grading began, kicking up dust over the dry summer months.

Once the grading began, nearby residents noticed the change and voiced a negative opinion before the city council.

In August, The Daily Tribune News received a letter addressing citizen concerns. The letter said that the "initial understanding was that the development would consist of a recreation area, which would fit into the natural flora and fauna of Euharlee, and would include walking trails and limited football and baseball fields behind the existing police station."

"I think some people were caught off guard when they started working on it," Goss said. "Fifty-three acres is a big tract, and when there's work going on, people will notice it. There's growing pains when you do a project that size.

"On windy days there may be dust that kicks up -- although the grading contractors have worked very hard to control that and wet it down with water trucks -- but there are growing pains, and hopefully through education and communication, we're on the same page. When it's finished I think it will be something we can say we're proud of for this city. We're almost finished with the grading stage."

Goss addressed concerns over the park's plans that it may be turning into a "sports complex," saying that the park will have four baseball/softball fields and a walking trail around the entire 53 acres. He said the fields are needed in addition to those at Osborne Park to be able to serve more athletes and residents.

"The main component [of the park] is four baseball/softball fields," Goss said. "The two fields over at Osborne, you have to look at it from two standpoints -- from the girls and the boys. From a boys' [perspective], the small field at Osborne is really suitable for kids from age 6 to maybe 10. When you move over to the other field, that's suitable for boys from age 10 to maybe 14. It's the same way for the girls.

"The challenge with just having those two fields is a lot of travel ball teams in the county practice and play out of Osborne Park and Woodland Middle School uses the fields. When the regional tournament is held here, they can only play one game at a time out at Osborne. By having these additional facilities, you can actually play multiple games with these tournaments."

The plans also include other amenities to suit residents of all ages.

"It will also include a recreation area, restrooms, a covered pavilion and an indoor area that can be used for either a meeting space for ball teams or it will also be able to be used for indoor batting practice," Goss said. "Another component is the walking trail, which basically will go around the entire 53 acres. [The trail] has a really nice feel, a nice look. I think it's going to be a good opportunity for the citizens that live on that end of the county to go somewhere and have a nice trail to walk on that they can feel safe. It will be ADA accessible, so it will be able to be used by the entire public. That trail will eventually tie into another trail system that runs behind city hall and it will link up to a series of trails that go all the way down to the Covered Bridge."

The property also has a state-owned spring that cannot be disturbed. To keep the area in its natural environment, Goss said 15 acres around the spring will be left undisturbed, adding natural aesthetics to the park.

While the final decision remains unofficial at this time, there have been talks about installing tennis and basketball courts.

A future phase of the park's progress will include three multi-use fields in the area to be used for soccer or football and other similar outdoor sports as well as general purpose. Additional parking and small concessions also will be constructed along with a launch site onto Euharlee Creek or the Etowah River.

"That's an opportunity for a launch site for the city and when it gets through, it will be a day-use area and another spot people in the area will have to use if they want," Goss said. "You may not have everybody ride, but you may have citizens that enjoy just sitting on a swing overlooking the river. The city has made a big commitment to the quality of life and recreation in that area.

"Euharlee's commitment is really to service all of those people on the west side," Goss said, noting that residents in the Taylorsville area have to travel across the county for recreational opportunities. "It's the city's responsibility to listen and figure out what the needs of their citizens are. Not just the 4,400 people that live within the city of Euharlee, but for the ones on the outskirts of the city limits.

"Not everybody is going to have a kid that plays baseball or softball, but there is a lot of people that do and that's something the citizens had interest in. Secondly, I think, when you have facilities like this you continue to build that sense of community. It's not just a bedroom community where people sleep there and drive in from another place to work. They have an area where they can get recreation and their kid's athletics and get to know their neighbors and have a sense of community.

"Euharlee doesn't become just a place to lay your head down. It's a place for fellowship and recreation, and I think that has been the city's position over the last few years -- to find opportunities to better it's town or city for its citizens."