Members of the Oconee County Citizens Advisory Committee on Recreational Affairs were pleased last month with the county’s decision to begin construction of three multi-use fields at Oconee Veterans Park but expressed concern about the impact of the project on traffic at the park.
Lisa Davol, newly appointed director of the Parks and Recreation Department, updated the group on county plans for the fields, originally designated for adult softball but now being redesigned for multiple sports.
Board member Jeff Christie was particularly vocal in saying that the added traffic with only the single entrance and exit on Hog Mountain Road will make a bad situation worse.
“That will have to be addressed at some point” Davol said. “We know that.”
The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Aug. 1 authorized Commission Chair John Daniell to enter into negotiations with R.W. Allen of Athens for construction of the three multi-use fields at Oconee Veterans Park.
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Daniells said at the time that some of the details of the work have not yet been settled, such as the kind of turf to be used. That decision will affect the final cost of the project.
The advantages of natural versus synthetic turf was a topic of discussion at the Recreational Affairs Committee meeting on July 18 at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park.
More time, however, was devoted to the problems of traffic flow.
Christie said he believes the Board of Commissioners is sensitive to the problem.
“They know it’s a problem,” Christie said. “They have no solution yet. That’s not great news, but it is better than the alternative.”
The request for proposals issued on June 29 of this year called for construction of three multi-use baseball fields and associated dugouts, bull pens, batting cage facilities, and pavilion.
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The request for proposals also specified construction of a parking lot with entrances, curb and gutter, tree islands, sidewalks and approximately 320 parking spaces.
The fields and parking lot are on approximately 14 acres of land north of the existing soccer fields that is only partially graded.
Lights are in place, and Davol told the Committee members the county wants to work around the lights rather than move them.
Davol provided the Committee copies of the design for the field, which were prepared by Williams and Associates, 2470 Daniells Bridge Road.
The Board of Commissioners had not yet voted to go forward with those plans but did so on Aug. 1.
The design shows three baseball fields with infields and three rectangular fields drawn across the outfields.
The new fields will accommodate soccer, flag football, lacross as well as softball and baseball, Davol said.
The parking lot wraps around the south side of two of the multi-use fields.
The project is not expected to be ready for use until the Fall of 2018, Davol told the Recreational Affairs Committee.
Entrance And Exit
At present, Oconee Veterans Park has only the entrance and exit on Hog Mountain Road.
That entrance is across from Herman C. Michael Park, but there is no connection between the two parks. Elder Road, which provides access to Herman C. Michael Park, does not line up with the entrance to Oconee Veterans Park.
Hog Mountain Road is a state route, and the state so far has not allowed a traffic light at Elder Road or at the entrance to Oconee Veterans Park.
The rear of Oconee Veterans Park is accessible via Autry Road, which is not paved and is gated just inside the park property.
The county so far has been unwilling to upgrade the Autry Road exit, which would put traffic on Hodges Mill Road.
The video below is of the entire meeting of the Recreational Affairs Committee.
Leslie Hunsinger, Committee chair, presided.
Davol began discussing the multi-use fields at 12:30 in the video.
I was not able to attend the meeting, but Penny Mills did attend and recorded the video.