MILTON, Ga. — For years Milton has rented much of its parks and rec services. Now, the city is looking to own.
Parks and Recreation Director Jim Cregge used the analogy to describe the future of Milton’s parks and programming.
Renting came in the form of payments the city has made to Alpharetta for years under the two cities’ parks agreement. The contract allowed Milton residents to participate in Alpharetta recreation programs without paying an out-of-city fee. In return, Milton cut its neighboring city a check — it’s rent so to speak. The last annual check rang in at $452,000.
Late last year, the two cities began rehashing the contract, but no agreement was reached.
“We could not find a mutually beneficial plan,” Cregge said.
Cregge said Alpharetta was a great partner for many years, but the talks are over for now, and Milton is moving on. That means the city can now use those funds, once used for “rent,” to buy.
The big challenge, Cregge said, is facilities. The city is hamstrung by a limited number of athletic fields and indoor spaces and no recreation center. But in recent months, Milton has made strides to expand its facilities and is eyeing more.
With the purchase of the former Milton Country Club property, the city has added swim programs to its offerings and continue the site’s tennis program. The master plan for the park also includes adding two more tennis courts and the potential for volleyball courts.
The renovation of the clubhouse could open the door for additional programs with dedicated spaces for possible dance, art or other programs.
The city is not looking to expand programming right now, Cregge said. Rather, the focus is on getting its current programs to a level for success. However, he did say if certain opportunities were presented, Milton could consider additional programs in the near future.
For example, Cregge said the clubhouse at the former Milton Country Club property has a full kitchen, so the city could at least consider offering classes or other culinary-related programs.
In recent months, the city has been mulling additional activities. Milton’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board has been compiling a list detailing what recreation programs the city should consider, and it will pass along those recommendations to city staff and the City Council.
The push for more facilities has also been ongoing. The city is under contract to purchase the United Sports Complex on Cox Road which includes two full-sized soccer fields and a half-sized turf field.
Cregge said if the city finalizes the purchase, those fields can host the city’s boys lacrosse programs which are in need of playable fields.
Milton also earmarked funds to purchase a baseball field in its 2020 budget. Cregge said baseball’s popularity has been growing rapidly in recent years, while lacrosse, though still popular, has hit a plateau in registrations.
Another sport growing in popularity is basketball through the city’s partner, Halftime Sports, he said. The growth could mean the city will need to consider more indoor spaces. Milton currently has partnerships with local entities to use their courts.
There is still much work to be done to improve and expand on Milton’s parks and recreation programming, but along with added passive park spaces, Cregge said it is an exciting time for him and residents.
“For years it was all about master plans, trails plans and all that,” Cregge said. “Now it’s go time. It’s the most exciting time in my seven years with the city.”