HAMPTON — A portion of the proceeds generated from Nash Farm Park will now go toward implementing the master plan for the 204-acre property on Jonesboro Road.
Lose and Associates Inc. prepared the master plan for the park in 2009. However, that plan wasn’t adopted by the Board of Commissioners until Wednesday.
The board also elected Wednesday to allocate 20 percent of the revenue generated from events and rentals at Nash Farm Park toward the capital project needs and the build out of the park, which in part includes 12-foot-wide multi-purpose trails, multi-age playgrounds, conversion of the activity barn into an activity building, bike trails, equestrian trails, a covered pavilion to seat more than 200 people, and a garden.
Commissioner Dee Clemmons made the request after expressing concern in recent months that only residents of District 2 were paying on the property’s $8 million total debt through impact fees. The county still owes $2.5 million on the park.
“The citizens of District 2 will continue to pay for this debt until the rest of this board decides that they will use their district’s impact fees to pay for this park,” Clemmons said prior to the vote. “If we’re going to continue to let District 2 pay for this, let’s put a master plan in place so there’s something out there for them to enjoy.”
To Clemmon’s concern, Commissioner Johnny Wilson commented that the 20 percent of revenues should be used toward the property’s debt payment, instead of the park’s improvements.
“I think if we have a plan, we need to figure out a plan to pay for it and once we get it paid for, then we figure out what we’re gonna put on (the property),” said Wilson. “To owe money on this property, then come up with a master plan and figure out how we’re gonna pay for the master plan, I think we’re kinda splitting up our responsibilities of taxpayer dollars.”
Clemmons later responded that she hoped to see her fellow commissioners’ districts put their impact fees toward the Nash Farm debt. Wilson agreed that all districts should share in the costs of the county-wide park.
“That is a Henry County park, not a District 2 park,” said Wilson. “We need to all come together to see how to help with this. It’s our responsibility as a board to see how we can help reduce the debt on this park.”
The master plan for the park also includes a covered bandstand area, amphitheater, restrooms and seating areas overlooking the historic battlefield on the property.
More than 800 additional parking spaces are part of the plan to accommodate the expanded amenities.
Commissioner Gary Barham inquired about protecting the future of a designated greenspace area, which the master plan refers to as a historic battlefield on the plan. The site is presumed to be the location of a historic Civil War battle.
“I don’t see anything wrong with labeling that area as a historic battlefield,” Clemmons commented. “The main thing is that the name of the park is the question. The name of the park is Nash Farm Park. The greenspace on this master plan is what they’re calling the historic battlefield for re-enactment purposes. Anyone can use that space, it’s just the name for that area.”
County Manager Cheri Hobson-Matthews said she hoped that in approving the master plan, the county could set priorities for existing structures on the site and other county-owned parks.
“This resolution does not take into account doing anything with those existing structures or facilities. They will remain on the property,” said Hobson-Matthews. “I think what we’re going to have to do is allow our Parks and Rec board and staff to prioritize what our needs are. Right now we don’t have a priority for what needs to happen out at Nash Farm and, to be honest, we don’t have priorities for a lot of our plans we have in place, but this is our first step.”