Marietta set to buy land for rec center
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
May 09, 2012 12:37 AM | 2941 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The City Council is expected to purchase a 0.42-acre parcel on North Marietta Parkway for $100,000 tonight to help expand the site of the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center.

The Council placed it on tonight’s agenda in a vote of 5-0, with Annette Lewis absent and Van Pearlberg no longer on the Council, during Monday’s work session, City Manager Bill Bruton said.

Located at 373 N. Marietta Parkway, the purchase would be made from The Graham Family, LP using 2009 parks bond money.

Councilman Johnny Sinclair, chairman of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Committee, said it’s a good deal.

“We’re getting an adjacent piece of property at a fair price,” Sinclair said. “The current Elizabeth Porter site is not big enough to accommodate the new facility, so we had to purchase some additional land. In addition, we’re hoping to have a presence on N. Marietta Parkway so that people can see it as they drive into town. Our expectation is that this will be the premiere recreational facility in the city’s park system.”

Sinclair said he hopes to have the new center open by fall 2013.

“This would be put together with the total site, and then we would have a design process to figure out exactly where the building would go and parking would go and green space and that kind of stuff,” Bruton said.

When voters approved the $25 million parks bond in 2009, the council had earmarked $3.75 million for a new recreation center. The existing 1.8-acre Porter Center is a city-owned facility on Montgomery Street between Cole and Allgood streets.

However, the site is not big enough for the kind of new recreation facility the council wants, so the city earmarked $1 million in the parks bond budget for expansion of the Porter Center, which brings the cost to $4.75 million. With that amount, the city could build a new, 20,000-square-foot facility with two gyms and meeting, exercise and locker rooms.

Bruton said council members have discussed installing such things as an indoor walking track that would circle the top of the building, similar to the East Cobb YMCA’s, and an outdoor water play area. That and higher-quality building materials, such as walls that are easier to clean and that would last longer than drywall, would raise the cost by perhaps another $2 million. So depending on what the council wants, the cost could range between $4.75 million and $6.75 million.

The city bought a 0.45-acre parcel adjacent to the Porter Center for $260,000 from Phillip E. Sledge in Sept. 2010.

The city also owns a 0.22-acre parcel next to the Sledge property, and the Marietta Redevelopment Corporation owns a 0.29-acre parcel on N. Marietta Parkway adjacent to that sliver.

Bundling those slivers together still doesn’t give the site enough space, according to Rich Buss, the city’s park director, who said the city probably needs between four and five acres to build the recreation center the council members want.

Bruton said the city is eyeing other parcels around the Porter Center property, noting that while the city has the power of using eminent domain to obtain them at a fair market price, that would not be the city’s first resort.
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