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Dates set for park hearings
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Two hearings are scheduled in September to let the public weigh in on a proposed reservoir and the possibility of a park in the Dawson Forest Wildlife Management Area.

Earlier this month, Dawson County Commissioner Gary Pichon encouraged his fellow board members to consider his idea for a grand park on a portion of the 10,000 acre tract.

While the city of Atlanta-owned land has not been ruled out as a second airport site, Etowah Water and Sewer Authority has proposed constructing a reservoir on about 2,000 acres of the property to ease regional water issues.

Pichon would like to see the remaining acres conserved for recreational use, a notion he said could be an economic engine for the county.

"I'm thinking about this not only to conserve the land, but as a tourism industry for our county," Pichon said.

The public hearings, Pichon said, are intended to gauge the public's interest in the park and reservoir proposal.

"We might hear some things we do not know and maybe didn't think about," Pichon told commissioners earlier this month.

Commissioners also anticipate hearing from groups that have vowed a legal fight if the reservoir plan proceeds. Opponents contend damming the Etowah River at Shoal Creek for a reservoir would endanger several fish species and disrupt river flows to areas downstream.

Pichon said despite any position the commission may take on the matter, the future of the site is going "to have a huge impact on the people of this county one way or another."

The public hearings are scheduled on Sept. 8 and 22 during the board's work session meetings. The meetings start at 4 p.m. and are held in the G.L. Pete Gilleland Council Chambers at city hall.