After months of constant rain, dirt finally began to move once more at the site of the Main Street Park in downtown Dawsonville earlier this month.
Due to soggy ground conditions, paving the roads, parking lots and walking trails within the park has been delayed since the fall of 2018, according to Bob Bolz, Dawsonville city manager.
“Week before last we had five days without rain and that’s the first time we had that happen since October,” he said.
In late March, a few sunny days allowed the ground to dry enough for paving to begin.
“That was exciting. We’ve been waiting to see some paving forever because they moved in paving equipment probably in the fall and it just hadn’t quit raining,” Bolz said. “The problem with paving is the soil’s got to be dry. If it freezes and ruptures, your paving is gone.”
Pavement of the roads, parking lots and walking trails is part of the first phase of the much anticipated city park, and now that weather conditions have allowed for the concrete to be poured, installation of the playground, the creation of a dog park, landscaping and fencing are on the agenda for this year.
On March 4, the Dawsonville city council approved the design of the playground that will be installed in the next six or seven weeks.
Great Southern Recreation’s design, which includes a zipline, multiple slides, climbing elements and inclusive swings and wheelchair accessible equipment, will be installed on the Allen Street side of the park.
“It’s going to be a destination playground,” Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said. “It’s not going to be just a place with some swings.”
There will be elements of the park for older children as well as children with special needs and disabilities.
“We don’t want it to be like just what you have behind a school or just what you have behind a church or at home. We want it to have different elements that will bring people out,” Bolz said. ““I really want to get it open. We want to really have a place where families can come and just be together, you know, get out and play and have some fun.”
To make room for the expansive playground, excavators have been removing dirt and relocating it to Memory Lane, near the North Georgia Assisted Living facility, where it will be used to build a fenced-in dog park that will allow dogs to play off leash.
“We don’t really have a design on it yet because we’re not sure how big it’s going to be… we won’t know until we get all the dirt moved,” Bolz said. “We’re thinking an acre or so of a dog park, maybe a little bit bigger than that…The fenced area will be separated into two parts: one for small dogs, one for large dogs. They’ll have water fountains and watering bowls for the dogs.”
Benches and awnings will also be installed so that dog owners can sit and stay cool while their dogs play.
The design is still in the very early stages.
As the ground continues to dry out, the city will be looking to plant grass and landscaping, begin fencing and begin construction on a restroom and concessions facility in the hopes of opening the park in sections by the summer, according to Bolz.
Phase one of the park began in mid-June 2018 when the city broke ground after awarding the $1.4 million contract to TW Phillips Grading. The estimated completion date for the initial phase was in November, however the weather had other plans.
“Everything is contingent upon everything else so four to five months of delays… we’d hoped it be up and running by spring,” Eason said. “We’re hoping it will be by summer now.”
Unfortunately, the farmers market pavilion that will be along Allen Street across from Dawson County Junior High School most likely won’t be open by growing season due to the months of delayed construction.
“Our target was to get them open all by June. I just don’t see that happening. Mother Nature’s just not cooperating,” Bolz said. “We really hoped we’d have this open by growing season but I just don’t know right now.”
Bolz said he hopes that with dryer months coming in the summer, the bulk of phase one of the park can be completed so that the community can start enjoying the amenities.
Though there have been many challenges and setbacks for the Main Street Park project, Bolz remains optimistic.
“If you sit back and look at Dawsonville and Dawson County, yeah there’s a lot of challenge but a lot of opportunity,” Bolz said. “We would prefer to look at a challenge as an opportunity. How can we make this better, how can we make it more pleasant and improve the quality of life for folks that live and visit here.”