County officials expect major 'horizontal development' at 44-acre site next year

Hamilton Crossing Park expansion infrastructure to pick up in 2019

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Although he isn't anticipating much "vertical" development to take place at Hamilton Crossing Park next year, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor said he certainly expects to see considerable infrastructural development on the planned recreational expansion in 2019.

"We're expanding the park as we can with our funds available as of now," he said. "Our new SPLOST starts in 2020, and that's when we think we can take the park and finish what we've got going as far as the park expansion plan … hopefully it can be completed maybe around the end of 2020."

Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said he's optimistic the basic infrastructure of the 44-acre expansion can be completed by then. "That's certainly a reasonable timeline, barring delays," he said. "By that point, we'd like to potentially see the tennis center moved, the new soccer field, the pond is going to be dug and there's going to be a little amphitheater area around it." 

In addition to the $5 million aqua park feature and the $500,000 tennis center, the expansion project is also expected to include a $6 million "double gym" that can accommodate several games at once.

"We know that won't get built until at least 2020, because we don't plan on borrowing money as of yet," Taylor said. "Right now, the plans are to not borrow money to build the park out. We want to spend the money as it comes in, so to speak."

Olson said the county hasn't ironed out a final timetable for the expansion, nor made a decision on the order in which the projects will be constructed. 

"The collections on that SPLOST don't even start until next year, and we weren't really that keen on borrowing money, like has been done in past SPLOSTs — you incur borrowing costs and it's not necessarily easy to get projects done any faster, and you end up at the back of the SPLOST just paying off a lot of debt service, which is kind of what we're doing with the current SPLOST," Olson said. "There's still some money left in the '08 SPLOST that's designated for rec, so that's what we've been using on the grading of what you've seen going on out there."

He tabbed the total cost of planned park infrastructure — including parking and stormwater — at around $2 million.

Over the next year, Olson said the bulk of development at Hamilton Crossing Park will be of the "horizontal" variety.

"In 2019, I think you'll mostly see a little bit of the less exciting infrastructure work in terms of grading, paving, curb and gutter, stormwater," he said. "It takes a lot of time to get 44 acres taken from a farm field to the basics for the park, to get all that pavement down and so forth." 

The county is accepting bids for Phase I Hamilton Crossing Park sewer system upgrades until Jan. 10.

"That's putting in the backbone of the infrastructure for the sewer," said Bartow County Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Gene Camp. "We'll be putting several lines in and probably a couple of pump stations."

Plans currently call for the construction of 650 linear feet of 8-inch ductile iron sanitary sewer line, 1,750 linear feet of 8-inch PVC sewer line and nine manholes. 

"The water table is very high and we have problems with septic tanks in that area," Camp said. "That's the big thing, to take care of that health hazard."

Ultimately, Camp said he anticipates Phase I sewer upgrades to cost around $2 million. "We'll probably issue bonds or do [Georgia Environmental Finance Authority] loans," he said. 

Camp said the county is still mulling its options about what to do with flows. One scenario, he said, would see flows diverted to the Two Run Creek Water Pollution Control Plant, while another possible outcome would see the flows diverted to the City of Cartersville. "Whichever's most economically feasible," he added.

Some infrastructure, Camp said, has already been placed, but a deluge of soggy weather has prevented the county from making much headway on the project. He said there is currently no timetable in place for how long Phase I sewer improvements may take — nor is there an estimate for when construction on the upgrades could get underway.

Yet like Taylor and Olson, he's optimistic there will be substantial progress on Hamilton Crossing Park in 2019.

"It's just whenever we get everything ready, get the plans finished and get ready to put it on schedule," Camp said. "We'll definitely get the gravity sewers in and hopefully phase it in with what the recreation department is doing — it should be in service next year." 

Taylor said he believes grading and dirt work on the expansion could wrap up next year — with a strong possibility that an interior road coming into Highway 41 could also be constructed before 2020.

"Maybe we can put the utilities in, the road in, complete all the grading in '19," he said. "So that will be a major help going forward when our SPLOST dollars do come in and we can start going vertical with some of these projects."