Some Columbus residents support more hiking and mountain bike trails if the Wildlife Management Area at Lake Oliver is turned into a state park.
More than 70 people filled the City Services Center on Tuesday to hear plans from state park officials and Nashville, Tenn.-based consultant Lose & Associates, who were looking for ideas on a master plan for a possible Standing Boy Creek State Park. The state has owned the 1,580-acre site since 2000 but recently received support to turn the area into a state park with multiple uses.
After getting a briefing on the property, residents were handed sheets with 10 dots to stick on a wall with possible activities in an area with a half-mile of frontage along the scenic Chattahoochee River. In addition to hiking and biking, residents support camping, cottages, disc golfing, equestrian trails, splash pads and other uses. Some residents used the red dots to keep the area as a Wildlife Management Area.
Will Peek, a lifelong resident of the area, said he’s happy the state is putting together a master plan.
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“I’d like to see more mountain biking and hiking,” he said. “I’ve been on the property. I love it. It’s a beautiful piece of property.”
Mike Smith of Columbus said the new park would be great for children. Smith grew up in Columbus and lived in Harris County while serving as a federal ranger. Although retired, he now works part time at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain.
“I love the outdoors,” he said. “We need a facility like this. Right now we haven’t got anything for kids.”
He said children need a place to get them off the couch.
“Give them a place to go study nature,” he said. “Get away from the couch and video games. This will be a great opportunity for them.”
Eric Bentley, Region 3 manager of State Parks and Historic Sites, said it would be a five-year process to get the park developed if funding is available. Initial investment would be $10 million for a mid-size park.
“We are talking five years down the road,” he said.
Aaron St. Pierre of Lose & Associates said there is nothing on the property other than a dove field and a barn. There are many dirt or gravel roads on the property where timber was harvested. It also has a lake stocked with fish on the property’s north side.
Parts of the property would make you think of Helen, Ga.
“The site has plenty of opportunity for a state park,” he said.
A student was concerned about possible impact to ecosystems if the area is developed into a park. St. Pierre said regulations would require set back on the property and buffers.
“There are definitely regulations we are aware of that we will be staying clear of,” he said. “The master plan is kind of a loose guide to how a section gets developed.”
State officials and St. Pierre will return with a list of ideas at the next meeting.