BOC votes for Blackburn Park grant application

The Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to apply for a $100,000 grant for trails and complementary projects in Blackburn Park.  The county match would be volunteer labor.

This project has the potential to create the county’s second major park and open the first recreation area in southern Lumpkin.  The beauty of this project is that we’re reclaiming roads, trails and pavilions that already exist.

Commissioners pointed out numerous caveats to the project.  They can decide to not accept the grant when and if it is offered in the Spring.  They can postpone doing the work because the grant allows two years from the time of acceptance.

They can delay the project by delaying acceptance of a Master Plan for the park.  The committee appointed by Chairman Raber is made up of the principal of Blackburn Park School, one private citizen and county employees.  Although appointed some time ago, the committee has yet to even meet.

Concern about county employee time to monitor the project could very likely be reimbursed from the $100,000 grant.  NGCSU interns may be available to help with management at no cost to the county.

Safety of the public in Blackburn Park was discussed as a major problem.  That’s interesting since public safety has not been an issue in Yahoola Creek Park.  Audience members volunteered that they already walk on the Blackburn property without concern for their safety.

Public safety is an illusive issue.  The presence of police may deter crime; but there can never be enough to prevent it.  Criminals usually commit their acts when and where they feel safe from detection.  Having a lot of people in the park to monitor and report illegal activity would be the best way to prevent it.

During a Work Session discussion of the project, Chariman Raber had expressed concern about Sheriff Jerrards’s offer of inmates to do volunteer work in the park.  He cautioned against the use of child molesters and rapists in the park.  Surely he jests.  He must know that would never happen.  State guidelines do not allow violent inmates to work among the public.  Our Sheriff certainly would not allow these folks out in any case.

One person told me after hearing Raber’s comments that the presence of inmates in the park accompanied by a duputy actually makes her feel safe when she is walking alone.

Reclaiming Blackburn Park is not a done deal.  However, we are one step closer.  Let the commissioners know what you want the park to be.  Commissioner Scott says we have lots of trails in Lumpkin County and questions whether we need any more.  It appears that he only hears from those who want more ball fields.

It is important to stay in touch with all the commissioners.  They make decisions based on what the people want.

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