The town of Braselton in the upcoming year may start looking into offering some kind of parks and rec service. The idea made its way to the top of the town’s priority list during its annual retreat held last Friday.
District 2 council member Peggy Slappey said she would like to see the possibility explored in the community so that children growing up in the town would feel as if “they are Braselton.” Although she called it a “for the people”-type service with “big hairy audacious goals,” the elected officials sharing the room jumped on the idea of possibly offering community activities, sports leagues and additional parks.
Braselton spans four counties and is not a “county seat,” unlike Jefferson, Gainesville, Lawrenceville or Winder, which all offer city or county parks and rec services within them.
“The Jefferson facility has programs all day every day for the people who don’t go to work during the day,” town manager Jennifer Dees said. “It operates a lot like a community center. They also have a lot of adult leagues, such as basketball and soccer.”
But parks and rec facilities don’t pay for themselves, said Dees.
For example, Jackson County’s recreational facility in Jefferson cost the county $5 million, she said.
“This is one you really expressed a lot of interest in doing,” Jim Dove, with the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission said while helping the group brainstorm with exploring the possibility. Dove, who just helped facilitate a retreat in Jefferson, said, “It’s one thing to build a $5 million building, but another to maintain it.”
There is also the possibility of having a referendum to pay for the park.
Dove added that participants in the Jefferson program are not necessarily in the city limits, but aren’t charged extra for participating.
Mayor Bill Orr said in order to limit costs, the town could consider looking at other organizations, such as the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Club, by cooperating with other counties and other entities.
District 1 council member Richard Mayberry said he thought the council should keep in mind that the services might be duplicated. Newly elected District 4 council member Rhonda Stites called the prospect attractive for people who are thinking of moving into the community.
The town could start with finding out what type of services the community would like to participate in. Dees said parks and rec experts exist to advise on the potential move.
“I think the key word here is ‘explore’,” said District 3 town council member Tony Funari. “But you can’t know about it until you start thinking about.”
The idea of opening another park in Braselton was discussed and its was decided that the town needed to determine what kind of park the community wants.
Dees said 74 acres on Hwy. 124 on the Mulberry River in Barrow County was at one time donated for a park and could be explored. The original idea was to build a park with Barrow County, but Dees said that didn’t happen because Barrow County no longer has the funding.
Dove said the town could consider taking the 71-acre property venture to an environmental design class at the University of Georgia.