072221_CTN_BoardParks

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a construction agreement for the first phase of the L.B. "Buzz" Ahrens Recreation Center to be built at Cherokee Veterans Park. This rendering shows what the rec center will look like.

A brand new park could soon be coming to the Hickory Flat community after the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners approved a purchase agreement for 20.5 acres of land.

After a closed-door executive session Tuesday, the board voted 3-2 to approve entering into a purchase agreement for the property. Commissioners Corey Ragsdale and Benny Carter opposed the measure. The property is located at the corner of Lower Union Hill Road and East Cherokee Drive, with an estimated cost of $3.25 million.

“We don’t have a park in that segment, and it really would be beneficial to the residents who live in that area,” Commissioner Richard Weatherby said at the board meeting Tuesday.

Carter said he felt the timing of this purchase opportunity had come about too quickly for him to be able to support it.

“It would be more of a semi-urban park, because it’s right adjacent to this business district of downtown Hickory Flat, if you want to use that term,” Commission Chair Harry Johnston said. “I know the people in that area greatly desire some public open space in or adjacent to that business district. My sense is they’d rather have this than a more traditional park that would be larger but farther away from that business center. I really believe this is what most of the people in the Hickory Flat area want us to do in the way of parks there.”

The board of commissioners also approved a construction agreement with Reeves Young, LLC, to develop the first phase of the L.B. “Buzz” Ahrens Recreation Center at Cherokee Veterans Park on Highway 20. The county approved using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money for this project, which includes a budget of $10.47 million plus a reserve of $1.6 million to handle any possible unforeseen circumstances. Nicknamed “The Buzz,” the new recreation center will be built in several phases, according to county officials. The first phase will include gymnasium space, a fitness area, a climbing wall, two classrooms, an aerobics and dance studio, a large meeting hall with a kitchen and office space for Cherokee Recreation and Parks staff. The construction agreement also includes the development of a parking lot, the installation of a crosswalk between the rec center and the park’s playground and an expansion of the park’s septic system.

“We’re excited that this vision is finally going to become a reality,” Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency Director Jay Worley said.

With the agreement approved, Worley said ground was expected to be broken in the early fall. Construction is expected to take around 15 months, meaning “The Buzz” should be officially opened in November or December of 2022.

Community Services Agency Director Bryan Reynolds, who served as the parks and recreation director when the idea for the rec center was initially proposed in 2017, said he was pleased to see this project moving forward.

“It’s another step toward realizing our vision and our plan for more indoor recreation space in the county,” Reynolds said. “I’m excited.”

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