It appears the disagreement between the city of Canton and Cherokee County over the cost of two parks could have been just a “false alarm,” County Commissioner Harry Johnston told commissioners during its meeting on
The commission unanimously approved sending a letter to Canton leaders outlining the cost of both the proposed Etowah River Park and the proposed four baseball fields on a parcel adjacent to Kenny Askew Park on Univeter Road.
The letter states the commission agrees with the city’s assessment that the city has $3.1 million set aside for the Etowah River Park, which includes additional playground equipment, design and architectural work, a railroad crossing and a construction contingency.
Johnston said the city last month requested in writing a rundown of the cost for both projects.
Canton City Councilman John Beresford informed the council last month he’d been told that the price of both parks increased and the city would have to fork over an additional $700,000 from the $1 million it planned to use for extras.
Johnston said that upon further review, there was only a small increase in the cost.
“We also agreed that if there was an increase in costs, we can’t ask the city to absorb that out of their parks budget,” he added.
Johnston said he had two concerns about the most recent stalemate: a possible strain in the relationship with the city and whether the disagreement would cause a delay in the projects.
However, the commissioner is positive about the letter’s impact.
“I believe we can avoid that delay,” he said. “I think it will maintain the relationship, which I think is good and it will avoid any further delays on getting the parks built.”
Councilman John Beresford applauded Johnston for serving as a mediator and working to get all parties on board.
He noted he hopes to get both projects moving “as soon as possible.”
“He did an excellent job and I appreciate that,” he said.
Johnston added the county is set to go out for bids on both projects in October.
Cost estimates put the Etowah River Park at around $2.1 million while the projections to build the ball fields at the Univeter Road site are around $2.7 million.
Design work for the baseball complex calls for four fields, a 1,200-square-foot concessions area and restroom building, 240 paved parking spaces, bleachers, benches and trash receptacles, a free-standing scoring stand at each field, chain-link dugouts and tournament-level sports field lighting.
The Etowah River Park, which will mostly be passive features, could include a half-mile American Disabilities Act-accessible concrete walking path around multi-purpose fields, one 1,100-square-foot concessions and restrooms building, 207 paved parking spaces, ADA-accessible concrete walking paths and sidewalks connecting to an event lawn and to the concession building.
That park is slated to be developed at the end of Brown Industrial Parkway off Highway 20, near exit 19 off Interstate 575.
The city also had $1 million set aside it could use to add extras such as a bridge over the river, an amphitheater at the Etowah park and playground equipment.
Funds from the $90 million Cherokee County parks bond will pay for the project.
Canton leaders originally wanted baseball fields at the Etowah River Park.
However, council members decided last year to halt plans to move forward after the roughly $7 million price tag did not yield what they initially thought would be included in the park.
City leaders also indicated the land was located in a floodplain and flood way, making it an undesirable location for baseball and softball fields.