Three months after closing on donated property for a future recreation space, Dawson County’s Parks and Recreation department will move forward with applying for a grant to develop the land for public use.
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After their Feb. 2 work session, the board rubber stamped Parks and Rec Director Matt Payne’s request to go ahead and apply for the 2024 Georgia Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant.
Longtime county resident Anne Styles and her family donated 120 acres of land located off of Ga. 183 and Elliott Family Parkway last year.
The DNR grant would ideally fund the construction of biking and walking trails at the Styles Park property, something for which board members have previously voiced support.
The pre-application process for the grant starts in June 2023. Officials are expected to determine the exact dollar amount to request at a later time. If awarded, the grant would be a 50/50 match and is expected to be dispersed in 2024.
“Until we get a [trails] firm to come in and look at the topography and look to see what we can do, I don't have that yet,” Payne said at the board’s work session. “And I know they’re going to want that from me.”
Similarly, the board approved a limited-purpose lease agreement for Rocky Hill Cattle Company, which has for a while produced and raised cattle on the land, about 77.41 acres in size.
County Attorney Angela Davis explained that this term was part of the considerations for Anne Styles’ land donation and that in exchange, the cattle owner would keep mowing, weeding and fencing that tract.
There is a clause that allows the county to terminate the agreement with 30 days notice if it’s decided that that part of the donated land is needed to develop the future park.
Ultimately, Payne elaborated that a decision to authorize grant pre-application “does lead the next discussion.”
“At some point, we will need to put our heads together and decide exactly what direction we want to go with this particular piece of property,” he said. “It’s a beautiful gift, but the topography is going to be very difficult…[it’s] perfect for walking trails or disc golf.”