The Dawson County Board of Commissioners has drafted a resolution that, if approved, would oppose using state or federal money to finance a reservoir project supported by the City of Dawsonville.
The project, known as Calhoun Creek Reservoir, calls for a dam 2,000 feet wide by 220 feet tall and a 590-acre lake. By comparison, Buford Dam, which holds back Lake Lanier, is 1,630 feet wide.
"I'm not responsible for what the county does or does not do," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan. "If they chose to be in opposition to it, so be it. We are continually working to enhance our cooperation with the county, but obviously we are not reaching some people. That does not mean we won't continue our efforts because we will."
Grogan said the city will continue its efforts to communicate with the county and move the reservoir forward when the time comes.
"We are looking to the future," he said. "The city's focus at present is on our downtown revitalization. All these other issues are a distraction to what's really important beautifying our city, bringing in new businesses, creating new jobs, breathing new life into a city that is ready for the future."
City Council member Chris Gaines agrees.
"I find it unfortunate that all the hard work that we have put into building bridges of communication can be halted in an instant with a proposal drafted without regards or attempts of any form of communication with the city that I am aware of regarding concerns they may harbor of the Calhoun Creek idea. I continue to believe that with communication we can be better governments for the people and resolve any issues that come forth"
The county's draft resolution opposes the project on three grounds: first, Dawson County was not included in discussion about the Calhoun Creek Reservoir; second, the proposed reservoir is located outside the current water service area for the City of Dawsonville and conflicts with the service delivery agreement for water supply/distrubtion dated October 2008; third, the board opposes the use of state or federal funds to finance the project.
"There's no current evidence that says we need the water," said Commissioner Gary Pichon (District-1). "There's already an infrastructure in place with the Russell Creek Reservoir. Why would you want to put these things beside each other?"
Pichon was referring to the Russell Creek Reservoir, a project undertaken by the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority (EWSA) in 2006 and located less than three miles from the proposed Calhoun Creek project. Russell Creek is designed to serve the water needs of Dawson County, and the city, until 2050, according to EWSA General Manager Brooke Anderson.
Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan on April 30 applied for $20 million in direct state investment through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) to purchase land for the proposed project, two-thirds of which is in Lumpkin County.A decision is expected immediately following a GEFA board meeting on August 27.
Chris Dockery chairs the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners.
"If this project involves Lumpkin County, he's (Mayor Grogan) got an uphill battle, especially if there's any talk of annexation," Dockery said. "I'll spend every dime I've got to prevent Dawsonville from annexing property in Lumpkin County with the support of our board of commissioners."
Lumpkin County Commissioner Doug Sherill also said he would be opposed to any purchase or condemnation of property in Lumpkin County.
"My position is this proposed project is just hearsay," Sherill said. "We have yet to be approached by any City of Dawsonville official. ... We haven't been asked to look at anything. We have not been involved."
Sherill added that Lumpkin County residents who would be affected by the project have contacted him.
"I have responded to them and said I would do everything I can to protect their property rights," he said. "And I'd be really surprised if the governor approves this funding."
Dawson commissioners are expected to vote on the resolutionTuesday, July 3, at 6 p.m.Meetings are held in the second-floor Assembly room of the Dawson County Government Center, 25 Justice Way, Dawsonville.