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Long-term parks and recreation plan presented

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After eight months of surveys, town hall meetings, and general assessment, Booz Allen Hamilton -- the consulting firm tasked with charting the future of the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department -- presented its findings to the Clayton County Board of Commissioners.

The Recreation Master Plan, presented at Tuesday's BOC work session, will serve as a map to help guide the development of the Parks and Recreation Department's programs for the next 10 to 20 years.

Detrick Stanford, director of the department, said the master plan will help meet the recreation needs of the county as it continues to grow. "I'm satisfied with the fact that we have a plan of action in regards to the future of our park system," said Stanford. "Two years ago, we didn't really have a directional plan. For us to have a document to work from ... is definitely a step in the right direction."

The master plan identified security concerns as one of the leading inhibitors standing in the way of people fully utilizing the county's park system. From town hall meetings, Booz Allen Hamilton also determined that many people believe the fees associated with park programs and recreation centers are too high.

The plan suggested that the department develop "branding standards" to better advertise its programs, and more security patrols to create a more relaxing environment. Among other recommendations, it suggested ways the county can create "points of interest" and make the county more commutable by connecting it's nature-trail system.

The BOC also urged the Clayton County Police and Code Enforcement operation to re-evaluate its current animal control ordinances. The discussion arose when Jennifer Grier, a resident of Riverdale's Bethsaida Woods subdivision, claimed a neighbor's rottweiler hopped a fence separating the two properties and mauled her two-and-a-half-year-old miniature schnauzer, Sophie, to death.

Presently, county codes require dog owners to chain or secure dogs within a fence that is twice the height of the dog from its hind paws to its head. However, codes also prohibit fences taller than six feet, according to Deputy Police Chief Greg Porter.

Eldrin Bell, BOC chairman, said more needs to be done to clarify the ordinances. "We need to roll up our sleeves," said Bell. "We always tell people what we can't do. We need to start telling them what we can do."