“All the heavy lifting is done,” said Beresford, who has in some ways taken the lead on the park. “Now it’s just putting the final touches on it.”
Beresford said enough work will be done by February for visitors to start coming to take advantage of the sprawling park’s walking trails.
“February is a good target date where people might be able to come in,” he said.
But, as is often the case with construction, Beresford said the broad soft opening date is contingent upon what the weather decides to do before February.
So far, in the many months of work on the park in the Canton-Cherokee Industrial Park, heavy and consistent rain has caused problems for the construction crews. As a result, Beresford said visitors will likely have to wait until April to take full advantage of the 81 acres.
Once fully operational, Etowah River Park will feature three adult-size soccer fields, a playground, a foot bridge over the Etowah and an amphitheater, in addition to the walking trail system.
For the past three years, Beresford has worked along with construction company Georgia Development Partners and parks officials to get the park up and running, but
because of the delays, he won’t get to see it open as a sitting city council member. Beresford has chosen not to seek re-election and will retire from the city council in January.
Beresford said he had hoped to be in office when all the labor came to fruition, but it just didn’t work out.
All the same, the councilman said the process has been rewarding.
“I’m totally delighted in being able to work the past three years (on this),” Beresford said. “All the meetings we’ve had, actually getting out and seeing it come out of the ground, it’s been a very positive experience.”
Councilman Bill Bryan also said he’ll be glad to see the park open, although he too isn’t seeking re-election and will be out of office.
“We’re excited that it’s almost finished, very proud of it,” Bryan said. “Mostly we understand and are appreciative of the fact that it’s paid for by the taxpayers.”
Etowah River Park is being funded with $3.1 million from the countywide parks bond and more than $700,000 contributed by Canton.
Beresford said $2,400 has also been spent recently, from the parks bond funds, to install a gate to help keep unwanted visitors and cars out of the park, particularly before it is open.
Although he knows people are excited to visit the park, Beresford said until officially opened it can be a dangerous place.
“They still have equipment moving around,” he said. “We don’t want any accidents.”