STOCKBRIDGE – The Henry County Board of Commissioners and the city of Stockbridge have called a special meeting for this Tuesday to discuss plans for the now-closed Cochran Park.
The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. at Stockbridge City Hall, located at 4640 North Henry Blvd. in Stockbridge.
At this Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, the commission was unable to make a decision on the park’s future, despite healthy conversation about the park, which included discussion about the park’s stormwater infrastructure, including video from inside the infrastructure itself.
A master plan had been proposed for the park, which included transforming the park into a passive park, including two pavilions, pickle ball courts, wooded trails and a pond. The pond would replace the stormwater infrastructure that has been cited by county officials as the reason for the closure of the park.
That proposed master plan went to a vote and failed, 2-4, with Commissioners Bruce Holmes and Dee Clemmons voting in favor, and Chair June Wood and Commissioners Johnny Wilson, Gary Barham and Vivian Thomas voting against.
The motion also included a 30-day contingency which would allow the city of Stockbridge to evaluate the situation and see if they would rather be given the park. Under that plan the county would pay $300,000 towards repairing the stormwater situation at the park, with the city covering the rest of those costs, if necessary.
Afterwards, Commissioner Vivian Thomas motioned to pay $550,000 from stormwater funds to fix the infrastructure and gift the park to Stockbridge, a motion that failed 3-3. Clemmons, Thomas and Holmes voted in favor, while Wood, Wilson and Barham voted against.
Wood said she had received a letter from the city of Stockbridge requesting to have a discussion about the park for an opportunity to partner with whatever plans the county makes for the park.
Holmes said he has been discussing Stockbridge’s future role with the park with city officials.
“I’ve had continuous conversations with Mayor Ford and the city manager regarding this area, and both of them have told me that they were interested in taking on Cochran Park,” Holmes said. “So last week, I had the county attorney reach out to begin negotiating a resolution to get feedback on how we can move this process forward.”
As part of the discussions, a resolution was put together by County Attorney Patrick Jaugstetter and sent to county and city officials. Under that resolution, the park would be donated to Stockbridge, the city would cover the costs for repairs and improvements, specifically related to infrastructure, the city would cover maintenance costs, and the county would pay for the monthly utility bills for the park.
Cheri Hobson-Matthews, Henry County manager, said that if the county were to replace the infrastructure in-house, it would cost $250,000. The repairs would be paid for using stormwater funds.
Earlier this year, the park was closed by county officials after a sinkhole was discovered in the parking lot of the park, which is located in the Stockbridge city limits.
The closure of the park led to substantial protest from Stockbridge residents, who contended the problems with the park were fixable and who said closing the park would have an adverse impact on the baseball teams and players that called Cochran Park home for a number of years. Others suggested the safety issues caused at the park were because the county had not properly maintained it.