Commissioner Helen Goreham said if you want to disappear into nature, visit the county’s 126-acre Leone Hall Price Park off Stilesboro Road.
“I like the fact that you can escape virtually from civilization once you walk into this park,” Goreham said of the land, located a mile east of Mars Hill Road and a mile west of Acworth Due West. “There’s vast meadows, there’s Allatoona Creek, there are stands of trees, and then there are meadows of wildflowers in the summer, so you just walk down the trail a bit and you’re far removed from development, and you get to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, which is very, very neat.”
Friends of Price Park, a nonprofit made up of area residents who came together to promote the park, is in the middle of a fundraising effort to build public restrooms, a bridge and parking spaces.
The late Leone Hall Price left the county 108.3 acres in her will in 2004, Goreham said.
“She was a longtime farmer and raised cattle on that property,” said Dave Schwickerath, who lives off Burnt Hickory Road and works in the computer software business. Schwickerath is president of Friends of Price Park. “Her goal and desire was to have people, the community, be able to enjoy the property as she did for the many years that she lived there,” Schwickerath said.
Using $1.4 million from the county’s 2006 parks bond, the county purchased an adjacent 17.7 acres of property in December 2007, Goreham said.
“We felt that it would be really great to add that property to Ms. Price’s property,” Goreham said. “It had been on the market to be developed as a subdivision.”
The bond only allowed for the purchase of green space, which is why the restroom, bridge and parking features have to be paid for with other means.
Earlier this month, the Board of Commissioners adopted a revised site plan for the park that incorporates the new property into the original 108.3 acres.
Schwickerath said the new plan shifts a proposed bathroom building and parking lot from where the original plan placed them, which was in the middle of a “gorgeous” 25-acre meadow, to the northern edge of the park on the 17 acres.
“So the local residents that are aware of the current master plan that the update is happening are thrilled that all those parking lots, restrooms and so forth get moved out of the meadow, and it will be there forever, so that’s a real important reason that the master plan update and that 17-acre purchase was important,” Schwickerath said.
Since the county doesn’t have the money to make the improvements to the park, Goreham said the Friends of Price Park group is stepping up. The group raised the $3,000 it took to pay for the new site plan, for example.
$13,000 raised to date
Schwickerath said his group has raised about $13,000 to date, and has $4,000 left in the bank.
The immediate task is to raise $100,000 to build a restroom building that will also have a small maintenance room for tools and supplies. Once the restroom is built, the group then plans to raise $50,000 to build a foot bridge across Allatoona Creek, which runs through the center of the park.
A third goal is to expand the existing 40-space parking lot by another 100 spaces.
“We’ll raise it $100 bucks at a time if we have to,” Schwickerath said. “What we need is to ask for support from some of the local businessmen who have an interest in getting this thing done.”
Schwickerath said the park is good for his health and his attitude.
“I take my dogs walking as often as I can,” he said. “It’s helped me improve my health, and it’s just a really special place, and it’s a great place for parents to take their kids and let them throw rocks in the creek and teach them about different animals and birds and different things that you see in the park, and it’s a real thrill to think that that’s the way the property had always been, and that’s the way it’s always going to be.”
Price Park is a passive park, which means it is used for hiking and walking. There are several miles of unmarked and undeveloped trails on each side of Allatoona Creek. Bikes and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
Cobb ‘likes its green space’
Goreham said the idea of having a group support a county park is not a new one. East Cobb Park, Mabry Park in northeast Cobb and Camp McDonald Park in Kennesaw all have friends groups.
“This is a good model especially in times when monies are tight that partnerships allow you to do more, public-private partnerships, allow you to get things done when funding is tight,” Goreham said. “Cobb Countians do value their parks. They like their green space. And they’re willing to work for it. They are willing to volunteer and step up to the plate and see that these parks are protected and also developed in an appropriate manner, i.e. some restrooms, picnic tables, whatever it is, but that’s how strong they feel about their parks.”