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County applying for grant to improve lake park
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The board of commissioners voted last Thursday to move forward in applying for grant generated funds to upgrade War Hill Park.


The Corp of Engineers park on the east side of the county was listed as one of 15 Georgia recreational areas recommended to receive a share of $1.2 million in federal funding.


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


The Georgia Department of Natural Resources gave Dawson County the go ahead last month 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.


With a required matching from the county, the funding, if approved by the National Park Service, would be used to replenish campsites, a picnic area, bathhouse and the beach at War Hill Park.


The motion to move forward with the application included a statement by District 2 Commissioner Terri Tragesser to budget for $80,000 matching with revenue reimbursed from Impact Fees to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV allocations for improvements at Rock Creek Park.


“The $80,000 will be budgeted in SPLOST IV as a transfer to the Grant Fund 250, where the grant will be administered and tracked in accordance with the LWCF (Land and Water Conservation Fund) grant regulations,” Tragesser said.


The matching would be transferred from SPLOST IV as expenditures occur in the Grant Fund, according to the county.


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.


The grant would be a bonus and allow the county to make more improvements than were originally planned at War Hill Park, county officials said.


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.


All that is left now that the board has approved submittal of the application 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