Kenwood Park gate decision postponed


A request to install entry and exit gates at Kenwood Park has been tabled so the Fayette County Commission can get cost estimates for the work.

Meanwhile the county’s recreation commission is considering the benefit of perhaps installing a pay station at the park so out-of-county residents will be required to pay a fee for park usage. This option is being considered because of the park’s popularity at peak usage hours which often leaves no empty parking spaces available for county residents, officials said.

Recreation Commission Chairman Charles McCollum told the Fayette County Commission Thursday that he has received several phone calls about people being in the park after closing hours. It was also noted that county marshals will ask people to leave at closing, only to come back two hours later and find others in the park.

The restroom facility has been vandalized once with some fixtures needing to be replaced due to damage, but vandalism is no more a problem at Kenwood Park than compared to the county’s other parks, said County Manager Jack Krakeel.

Beyond that the other problems extend to issues such as park users not following park rules such as the half-hour limit on tennis court use, McCollum said.

North Fayette residents have expressed an interest in starting an association to help maintain and monitor the park much the same way youth sports associations do the same for their parks and fields, McCollum said.

“Our thinking is the association would have monitors that would be responsible like the baseball and football associations who police their own fields,” McCollum said.

County Commission Chairman Jack Smith said he liked the idea of creating an association and wanted the county to do anything it can “to help nurture that.”

Krakeel said he concurred with the recreation commission’s recommendation to install entry and exit gates such as those used at other parks in the county.

One option is to install electronically controlled gates so they can be opened and closed remotely if need be. Krakeel said staffing issues would make it difficult to open the park in the morning particularly, although the marshals typically drive through the park to remind patrons to leave before closing the
park at night.

There was also some discussion of installing cheaper manual gates instead, as the electronic gates could cost up to $40,000 or more.

The county commission asked staff to bring back a cost analysis on both issues before the matter will be put to a vote. Since the county is using more than $450,000 to balance the budget this year, Commission Chairman Smith said the cheaper solution will be better.

“But I don’t want an option where a manpower issue winds up costing more than installing the gate,” Smith added.

McCollum also asked for commissioners’ input on whether the recreation commission should consider installing a pay station at the park to charge out-of-county users, for example. Residents in north Fayette have been split on the issue, he said.

The issue is that the park is so popular at peak usage times that on many occasions the parking lot is completely full, McCollum said. Some Fayette residents have expressed concern that at those peak times many of the park users are non-residents.

The park is located off Ga. Highway 279 in north Fayette County and abuts Clayton County.
McCollum said the main issue would be how to pay for the pay station initially and would there be enough in proceeds to make sure the station is paid for.

Chairman Smith said the recreation commission should be make the pay station decision on its own and if necessary make a recommendation to the county commission.

“I don’t think this board is in a position to tell you what to do,” Smith said. “We asked you as a commission to give us a recommendation. If you’re not convinced a pay station is warranted and there’s not a valid argument for it, I don’t know we would be in a position to second-guess you.”

The final decision on a pay station would be left up to the county commission.

The county commission also Thursday postponed a request to install fencing on a part of the park’s perimeter in response to safety concerns from neighboring homeowners whose property is immediately next door to Kenwood Park.

Smith was skeptical about the proposal to build a fence along a portion of the park that abuts several residences and a privately owned lake all of which are adjacent to the walking path at the park.

Residents’ safety concerns included the possibility of a child wandering off the walking path and perhaps getting in the lake, officials said. Smith suggested that would be a matter of parents keeping a closer eye on their children.

The commission will wait for a more firm number on the approximate cost and sketches of the area where the fencing is proposed before making a final decision on the fence issue.

“We need a better picture of what we’re dealing with before we take this issue up,” Smith said.