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A new look for War Hill Park
County to receive $80,000 grant
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A facelift may be in War Hill Park’s future.


War Hill Park is included in a list of 15 Georgia recreational areas recommended to receive a share of $1.2 million in federal funding.


The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has given Dawson County the go ahead to apply for $80,000 in federal funding through the Land and Conservation Fund, which helps communities acquire land, develop parks and renovate existing properties.


Barb Baptista, director of Dawson County Parks and Recreation, said the funds, which would require a matching from the county if approved by the National Park Service, would be used to replenish campsites, a picnic area, bathhouse and the beach at War Hill Park.


Dawson County maintains War Hill Park for the Corp of Engineers and is in the process of submitting a proposal to the Corp to immediately take action to lease War Hill Park and fund improvements outlined in the park’s master plan.


The funding to make improvements to War Hill Park are set aside through impact fees and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax V dollars, Baptista said.


“This grant would be a bonus for us and allow us to do more than we had planned at War Hill Park,” she said.


The plan to improve War Hill Park was developed as a three phase system that begins with updating existing facilities, such as the reconstruction of the park’s fishing pier, one of the only handicap accessible piers on the lake, improvements to the beach, refurbishing the 14 existing campsites and picnic area, renovating the current bathhouse and replacing old and damaged guardrails.


Phase 2 calls for the addition of a pavilion and playground, while Phase 3 would incorporate nature trails, additional campsites, pavilions, parking spaces and a canoe/kayak put in.


The cost to fund the improvements to War Hill is approximately $1.46 million, with Phase 1 at $382,000, Phase 2 at $150,000 and Phase 3 at $900,000.


The county currently has a contract, which expires in 2009, with the Corps of Engineers for the care and upkeep of the park.


Chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners Mike Berg said he was pleased officials at the state level were taking notice of Dawson County initiatives and the county’s goal to offer more recreational opportunities for its citizens.


Baptista said all that is left now is receiving final approval from the Department of Interior.


The grant program is administered through DNR, and officials received more than 57 applications this year.


Projects were scored on several criteria, including proximity to people and communities, conservation efforts, threat of land being lost to development and the number of organizations pledging to match the funds.

 E-mail Michele Hester at