Marietta City Council eyes renovation, expansion at two sites
by Nikki Wiley
March 11, 2014 04:00 AM | 2171 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta City Councilman Anthony Coleman sits outside the Turner Chapel AME Church gymnasium in Custer Park. The city is considering a $450,000-$600,000 expansion of the gymnasium. <br>Staff/Jeff Stanton
Marietta City Councilman Anthony Coleman sits outside the Turner Chapel AME Church gymnasium in Custer Park. The city is considering a $450,000-$600,000 expansion of the gymnasium.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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MARIETTA — City officials are looking to take the next step in bringing projects funded under a $25 million parks bond issue to completion.

City Council will consider asking Parks and Recreation staff to draw designs of proposed improvements to Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center and a building at Custer Park during a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. Council will also vote on condemning property that would be used for the park expansions.

The two parks are in line for improvements under the 2009 parks bond issue.

A splash pad and playground are possible additions to Elizabeth Porter that council members will consider asking staff to research. No cost projections are available yet.

“Elizabeth Porter became the ideal spot for it,” said Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly. “You’ve got the land mass, and it’s a perfect gateway into the city.”

Original plans called for a larger recreation center and community hub to be built at Elizabeth Porter, but that changed when the city acquired property at Custer Park, including a large gymnasium from Turner Chapel.

“It’s funny,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin. “The Custer Park property kind of came out of nowhere, the big building.”

That gym will take the place of a proposed building expansion at Elizabeth Porter in an attempt to avoid duplicating services at the recreation centers 1.5 miles apart from each other.

“We couldn’t build the same things two blocks away and serve the community,” Tumlin said.

Council will also vote Wednesday on moving forward with plans for an expansion of the Custer Park gym.

When the issue was discussed in early February, the cost was projected to be between $450,000 and $600,000. That money would pay the bill for expanding the 15-year-old gym and installing new flooring, insulation, bleachers, backboards and storage space.

An expansion could bring two high school regulation-sized basketball courts. When basketball games aren’t taking place, three volleyball courts could be available. Programs like indoor soccer could also be conducted in a larger gym.

Kelly served on a citizens committee that gave feedback on the bond issue and toured parks across Cobb. She’s happy to see progress.

“Plus, our city deserves it,” Kelly said. “We’ve gathered the money and our citizens deserve to have first-class parks.”

Properties up for condemnation

Council will also vote on obtaining four properties, some by condemnation.

One property is proposed to be purchased for $91,000 from the Marietta Redevelopment Corp. Three are proposed to be acquired by eminent domain, including an abandoned apartment complex at 500 N. Fairground St. and two properties on Allgood Road.

Council members postponed making decisions about the Allgood properties at a meeting in December after property owners said offers made by the city weren’t good enough.

James Gober attended the December meeting on behalf of his cousin, Peggy Price, who owns and lives in the home at 335 Allgood Road. He told the council its offer of $54,000 wasn’t sufficient and he was willing to battle in court to get his $80,000 asking price.

Gober said the city offered Price a home that is on the same street, but it’s in poor condition.

Ray Summerour owns the grocery store at 329 Allgood Road and also told council in December he wanted to see more cash before being willing to part with his business.

The city offered $142,000 for the property, but he wanted about $300,000.

“Any kind of condemnation brings a certain amount of controversy,” Tumlin said.

Condemnation would be a slow process, if it is approved on Wednesday, Tumlin said, and there is still a willingness among council members to work with property owners.

“It’s a major decision but it’s a very slow process,” Tumlin said. “We’re hoping we have turned the corner with communication.”

If you go

City Council will consider asking parks and recreation staff to draw designs and research costs of proposed improvements to Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center and a building at Custer Park during a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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