Monday, February 07, 2011

Milton pushes forward on park programs.

By Patrick Fox; Atlanta Journal Constitution

Milton approved contracts on Monday night for three new youth sports activities, part of an effort in which the five-year-old city will spend more on parks and recreation this year than in its previous years combined.

In need of upgrades, the city has one active park, Bell Memorial, which consists of four baseball fields, playground, concession stand and picnic pavilion on 15 acres. Until last year, it didn't have a parks department. Milton now has a department and director in place.

"We're having a lot of firsts around here," said Cyndee L. Bonacci, who has run the parks department for more than a year.

The city has budgeted $1.3 million in capital improvements for parks this year after spending no more than $51,000 on them over the past three years.

The city council recently approved $160,000 for a one-acre tract for a park at Deerfield Parkway and Webb Road. Last month, it gave approval for $14,000 for four dugouts at Bell Memorial Park and $15,000 for engineering and design work on Bethwell Community Center. Plans call for more parkland spending.

The city will build a park on a two-acre site between Northwest Middle School and Crabapple Crossing as part of an agreement with Fulton County Schools. It's also looking to develop Birmingham Park, a 205-acre tract with limited access, and has $1 million allocated for its trail plan.

The city also is adding more activities.

For more than a decade, the Hopewell Youth Association has operated summer baseball at Bell Memorial. The arrangement continued when Milton incorporated in 2006. To use the park, HYA handles all registrations and scheduling, and pays the city all non-resident and late fees.

Since last November, however, the city has looked to expand its offerings. It partnered with a local businesswoman to offer its first community class, a fitness camp at a reduced rate for residents. The city gets 20 percent of the fees charged.

On Monday night, the city approved agreements with i9 Sports Forsyth/North Fulton to offer a coed youth soccer program at Cogburn Woods Elementary School and a coed youth flag-football program at Birmingham Falls Elementary School. It also agreed to partner with Jessica Miller to offer a junior jazzercise program.

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