Briscoe Park renovations set to begin

SNELLVILLE - Engineering firm HDR Inc. has been hired by Snellville to begin work on Phase I of the Briscoe Park renovations.

Parks and Recreation Director Cyndee Bonacci explained the three phases of renovation included in the Briscoe Park Master Plan, adopted in February 2005. Phase I includes the widening of Snell Drive, the addition of a restroom facility, restoration of the lake wall and correction of erosion issues, according to Bonacci. The projects in Phase I will cost about $2 million and will be paid for with Special Local Option Sales Tax dollars.

Phase II will address the "active" areas of the park, creating one large soccer complex and adding a concession stand. A softball complex, re-oriented fitness trails and a 200-seat amphitheater are also included in the second phase.

Phase III includes the addition of an indoor multipurpose facility, basketball courts and sand volleyball courts.

Bonacci and her staff will seek SPLOST funding for the second and third phases of the planned park updates in the future. Construction will begin on Phase I in early 2008.

Officials spar over sod

Councilwoman Kelly Kautz announced Monday night that, because of the area's Level 4 drought conditions and outdoor watering ban, she is asking that erosion control on the city-owned outparcel located at U.S. Highway 78 and Oak Road be reconsidered.

Bermuda sod is to be planted on the land following the recent demolition of buildings that once stood on the lot. Kautz is concerned the sod would have to be watered and asked that the planting be delayed as long as possible so watering would not be necessary.

Kautz suggested in an e-mail and later in Monday's work session that other ground cover solutions, like gravel or mulch, be considered.

Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer said that, with his engineering background, he was really the only qualified person among the council to make such determinations.

"There are gray water and other watering solutions. I don't want gravel, a silt fence or asphalt in this area. This is our front yard," stated the mayor.

In what turned out to be a sparring session that lasted nearly an hour on the subject, Kautz referred to criticisms against her on Oberholtzer's Web blog.

Councilman Robert Jenkins also mentioned the mayor's "blog" and suggested that negative comments be reserved for the mayor's opponent for city mayor Bruce Garraway.

"I'm speechless by the amount of debate and criticism this has caused," said Kautz, whose idea to delay planting and not water the sod was approved by a vote of 5-0.

Resident honored for heroic act

Rodney Fisher was recognized by Oberholtzer and Snellville Police Chief Roy Whitehead on Monday night for his recent actions that helped an elderly neighbor. According to Whitehead, Fisher happened to notice a prowler in his elderly neighbor's yard and told his wife to call 911.

Fisher then took his two German shepherd dogs next door, cornered and detained the prowler until police arrived on the scene. The suspect was eventually charged with criminal attempt to commit burglary and drug crimes.

"This is what's important, having our neighbors look out for each other," said Oberholtzer.