By Joel Hall
Clayton County officials have closed a deal on property on which to build the county's fifth recreation center, according to District 4 Commissioner Michael Edmondson. The action brings Clayton closer to fulfilling its promise to deliver several recreation centers from the proceeds of a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved in 2003.
The 7.25-acre property is located off Stockbridge Road, near the entrance of Sta-Brite Signs and Awnings in Jonesboro. According to Edmondson, the wooded property was purchased from a private owner on Aug. 20 for $375,000.
Edmondson, who has searched for a location for the county's newest, yet-to-be-named recreation center for more than a year, said the property is "ideal" due to its proximity to residential neighborhoods, schools and greenspace. He said the recreation center the county intends to build there is "essentially the same blueprint as the Virginia Gray Recreation Center" in Riverdale, with plans for an indoor pool, an indoor track and a workout facility.
"The rationale that went into this was to find a location that provided as much access to neighborhoods and children as possible," Edmondson said. "This particular location is equal distances between the [Clayton County] International Park and the new, multi-use recreation center that the City of Riverdale is building, which are the two extreme points of my district. We found a great piece of property in a great location for a great price that meets every criteria we set for it."
According to Edmondson, the property adjoins what was once Rock Hill Lake, a popular swimming hole in the 1970s. He said an artesian well exists on the property, which the county hopes to use to irrigate the land, and fill the recreation center's indoor pool.
Edmondson said the most attractive aspect of the property is its greenspace. He said he would like to leverage that greenspace to create a series of walking trails that connect Rum Creek Park, Jonesboro High School, Arnold Elementary School, Jonesboro Middle School and Jackson Elementary School to the recreation center.
"The vision is to embrace green [initiatives], embrace the environment, and encourage pedestrian traffic, so kids can travel to and from the center," Edmondson said. He said the center will "provide safe accessibility to children of all ages while embracing nature."
Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said he believes the property is "an absolutely magnificent location," and that it may help stimulate growth in that area.
"It's by a community in Jonesboro called White Line that, in my view, has been neglected over the past few years," Bell said. "All of a sudden, they are getting a new recreation center. I'm very elated that it is close to our [Ga. Highway] 138 corridor that provides access to our people on the south side. I think it will help the economic growth of that area."
The county's current recreation centers built with money from the 2003 SPLOST include the Jim Huie Recreation Center in Jonesboro, the Virginia Burton Gray Recreation Center in Riverdale, and the Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center in Rex. The county broke ground on a fourth recreation, center near the Gerald Matthews Sports Complex in Lovejoy, in July of 2008.