News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- It's been in the works for more than seven years, and Columbia County is now able to move forward on plans to open a new $750,000 BMX and skateboarding park.
The Columbia County Commission approved the plans Tuesday night.
Bikers and skaters alike are flipping over the new park, including 15-year-old Marshall Barrett, who loves skateboarding.
"I like to bring him up to let him ride when he can," said his father, Fred Barrett.
And soon, there will be a skate and BMX bike park at Blanchard Park.
"I'm super excited; they're awesome. It will give me time to practice on a real skate park instead of just being on a street," Marshall said.
"I think it's an awesome idea, give the kids something to do, the ones who like to skateboard," his father said.
The project will soon be in the design phase, costing about $75,000. A local company will work with Pillar Design Studios out of Arizona.
"Paved turns where you don't have to worry about maintaining your banks when people are making their sharp turns all the time," said Director of Construction and Maintenance Matt Schlachter.
"There's quarter-pipes, half-pipes, ramps, rails, stairs," Marshall said.
"For the skate park, it's going to be a bowl design, kind of like the swimming pool would be. It's going to have obstacles in there, different elements to it. They can do different tricks off of," Schlachter said.
Plans for the specialized park have been in the works for years.
"The Blanchard Wood master plan was done back in 2005 and part of that master plan had a BMX track in it," Schlachter said.
Even then, there was a lot of interest in the two sports. At the Augusta BMX track, the majority of its riders drive into the park from Columbia County.
"Recently we had a lot of interest from locals to come to us and tell us that they're looking for a place to do their BMX riding," Schlachter said.
After studying the idea a little more, the county saw a growing sport with a growing audience.
"We did some research into it, we saw the need for it, and we're moving forward with it," Schlachter said. "It's going to be a first-class park. I think everybody's going to enjoy it and I think it's going to be a great asset to the community."
They also plan to hold regional matches and events at the park to bring in money to the county when it opens. The park may take about a year to go through planning and construction phases. It will be paid for with recreation sales tax money.