TOWN CENTER — Plans are underway for a new 42-acre park between Town Center Mall and Kennesaw State University, from land officials hope will be donated.
The Town Center Area Community Improvement District’s board has been considering the park idea for a year, said Mason Zimmerman, board chairman.
Zimmerman and members of the CID’s planning and infrastructure committee met recently to talk about proposing the idea to the land owners.
The committee talked about creating a separate entity to buy property for a park near Town Center Mall between Interstate 575 and Interstate 75.
“The idea is to create an entity which can receive that property,” Zimmerman said.
Lanie Shipp, the CID’s executive director, said the group hopes the people who own the property will donate it. She said the 42 acres the group wants is located on undevelopable land because it is too wet.
“It’s like wetlands,” Shipp said.
The park, once built, would eventually be given to the county, she said.
“This would be a public board. The CID will not own it. The county will own it,” Shipp said.
CID attorney Lynn Rainey said there are many options the members will have to choose from to determine who owns the park. The property has not yet been appraised, so the CID doesn’t know what it’s worth. Property owners can choose to donate or sell their property for the park, he said, but having the CID buy the property would be unprecedented.
“Although a CID can own real estate, none of the CIDs do,” Rainey said.
Rainey said it would be more likely the county would agree to take ownership of the park, an idea not yet presented to the Cobb Board of Commissioners. CIDs usually cooperate with the county because it is a permanent government body, whereas a CID must be reapproved every six years to continue running, which can make it an unreliable property owner.
Rainey said more discussion between the county, the CID and the owners of the property need to happen before the CID decides who it wants to designate as property owner.
Zimmerman said the CID is in the beginning stages of showing renderings of the park proposal to property owners and getting their reactions.
“We’ve had all positive reactions,” Zimmerman said.
JoAnn Birrell, the county commissioner who represents the area, said she likes people at KSU and the Town Center Mall will have easy access to a park.
“We all need more green space, and this will be a nice enhancement and attraction for the folks that are in that area,” Birrell said.
The committee expressed excitement while talking about the project.
“The idea of the park is to take an area that is underutilized today and turn it into an area that is a benefit to the area,” Zimmerman said.
CID members spoke of funding the park with donations from residents and supporters.
The goal of the CID is to build a coalition of individuals who could assist in getting property owners and area residents to commit to supporting the park project.
This idea, he said, was inspired by the group of friends who came together to raise $1 million in four years to create the East Cobb Park, which was created when a few residents spearheaded a movement to raise money to buy property, hire a developer and build the park. Then, the group gave the park to the county at no charge to maintain the land.
Amber Harris, the president of Friends for the East Cobb Park, which manages fundraising and special events, said she thinks the concept that created the 13-acre park can work again in Town Center.
The integral step to its creation, Harris said, was raising the money from interested parties.
“They need a politician, a guy who can walk in and say, ‘Give me $20,000,’ and it’ll happen. That’s what happened here,” Harris said.