MILTON, Ga. — While the full buildout of the former Milton Country Club property is well down the road, the city now has a guide for its development.

At its Aug. 20 meeting, the City Council adopted a master plan for the site that outlines potential improvements and construction options, but also is malleable enough to accommodate changes. Any additions or developments would still go before the city for approval. 

The drafted plan had few tweaks since it was presented to the council in a work session last month, but one major addition was made — the inclusion of the Children’s Charities all-inclusive playground. 

Children’s Charities has been funding the project for several years with the goal of donating the playground, which will be constructed on city property. In the drafted plan, the 0.385-acre playground is shown south of the clubhouse and pool. 

Around a dozen residents weighed in on the plan in public comment, and the playground’s inclusion drew a mixed reception. 

While all speakers applauded the nonprofit for its mission to build the playground in Milton, around a half dozen residents said the former Milton Country Club property was not a suitable location. Speakers shared concerns on the impact the playground could have to traffic along Dinsmore Road and that it could hinder swim meets by taking away space needed to stage swimmers and teams in the area surrounding the pool. Others said the playground would limit any future expansion of the pool or clubhouse. A few residents asked the council to postpone their vote because the playground was not shown on the drafted plan until three days before the meeting. 

Several residents spoke in favor of the playground being constructed on the site, including Children’s Charities co-founder Lauren Holmes, who said the property is the “only and best place for the playground.” 

She said the playground will add to Milton’s limited active park spaces and the property is the only location for the facility without the city spending additional funds. 

“The playground should be in the old country club,” Holmes said. 

Outside of the discussion of the playground, one resident suggested a complete reconfiguration of the trails. Cole Whittall, a member of the Milton Greenspace Advisory Committee, said people prefer shaded trails along waterways, and the current plan misses that mark. He suggested the city abandon the trails proposal in the master plan and draw up trails along Chicken Creek and plant trees along the path to provide shade. 

After discussion, the council voted 6-0, with Mayor Joe Lockwood absent, to approve the master plan that includes the playground. At the same time, city officials stressed that nothing is yet set in stone.

“With the passage of this plan, we now know what we are committed to, and it gives us the opportunity to start planning and bring before you plans to fund,” City Manager Steve Krokoff told the council. “You will decide with each step whether or not that is your priority. This does give us a roadmap, it generally prioritizes how we want to attack this, but it’s not going to tell us exactly what we’re going to do.

Krokoff said the draft can allow the city to conduct general work and begin planning specific aspects of the park, such as the materials for the trails. It also allows the city to begin the budgeting process for improvements and to pursue grants. Several Providence Park initiatives have been funded by federal grants. 

City Attorney Ken Jarrard said any proposed buildout of the site would be discussed in an open meeting. 

“No one is going to build anything accidentally,” he said. 

As drafted, the site plan calls for the addition of two tennis courts, a volleyball court and a renovation of the clubhouse in the active area of the park. The initial stage of the clubhouse renovation includes creating men’s and women’s locker rooms, a dining area and multi-purpose spaces. 

In the passive area, the plan calls for 7.3 total miles of trails, beginning with a 3-mile trail on the northern portion of the property. A loop would later be created with the construction of a sidewalk along Dinsmore Road. The design outlines some options for the trail material, including crushed stone, decomposed granite or soil paths. 

Before the city can open the park, it must address issues including the repair or replacement of some of the cart paths. 

Visit https://bit.ly/33JyUmQ to view the master plan.

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