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Taxpayer kept from using park she helped fund

7:58 PM, Jun 23, 2012   |    comments
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WOODSTOCK, Ga - A Cherokee County family is wondering just why they were turned away from a public park when others are allowed to use it.

Rebecca Murray's children wanted to kick a soccer ball on one of the many fields at Badger Creek Park in Woodstock. They were greeted by a locked gate and a man telling them the park wasn't for everyone.

"This is two minutes from my home and I would love to be able to use the park," said Murray. "I was told unless I was a member of CSA soccer, I couldn't come."

The director of Cherokee County Parks and Recreation said the park cost about $5,000,000 taxpayer dollars to build.

The park looks complete, but Cherokee County Manager Jerry Cooper says it is still under construction, and that is part of the issue. There are still sidewalks to build and other additions so the park can meet requirements of the American Disabilities Act.

Cooper said as soon as all construction is complete, the general public will be allowed to use the park.

Right now, it's only open to members of the Cherokee Soccer Association.

"The Cherokee Soccer Association has been granted limited usage of certain fields during the completion of the construction," said Cooper. "All play on fields is currently supervised by CSA personnel as authorized by the Board of Commissioners."

While tax dollars paid for the construction of the park, the soccer association is paying for maintenance. It's an agreement that is saving the county as much as $100,000 a year. The association get priority over use of the fields.

But there is disagreement over the park's usage right now.

County commissioner Harry Johnston says as long as the public is kept clear of construction areas, he sees no reason why families and small groups can't use the park now.

"If someone wants to throw a ball, fly a kite, kick a soccer ball, by all means we want to let them to that," said Johnston.

Late Friday afternoon, a representative of the soccer association opened the gate to the park and allowed Rebecca Murray's family to use one of the fields for play.

Discussions over the park's use continue.

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