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Council re-imagines amenities for Yellow River Park
Changes have been made since Yellow River Park plans were made in 2011-2012
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4th of July (slideshow)

By: Darrell Everidge

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There have been changes in Porterdale since the plans for Yellow River Park were drawn up in 2011-12.

At a work session Thursday night, Porterdale Mayor Arline Chapman asked the council to review those plans, created with the help of the National Park Service, and make adjustments befitting the city’s long-term goals for the 27-acre park.

It was, Chapman said, a dream list of ideas and amenities. Since then, the proposed walking trail has been laid out, ready to be linked to other trails and cities throughout the state. The kayak launch proposed has been built, attracting paddlers to the area. The historic Memorial Gym on Broad Street, which burned down in 2005, has been repurposed to serve as an open air event center, eliminating the need for a green amphitheater in the park.

Other amenities that the city is unlikely to pursue include basketball and tennis courts, a ball field and a dog park.

Conversely, amenities not included, like the disk golf course, on the plan are currently in development.

Council member Lloyd Chambers thought the emphasis for developing Yellow River Park should be on unique amenities that Porterdale could offer, such as the disk golf course or an obstacle course. Other amenities suggested included a picnic shelter, BBQ pits, camping areas and bathrooms, most of which could be built and still maintain the park’s natural landscape.

Before any plans could move forward, Chapman said, the wetland areas needed to be identified and mapped.
Other items considered at the work session included:

• a proposal from the Rite Aid on Highway 278 to come on site and give city employees’ a flu shot. Pharmacist Todd Nelson said as part of the service, Rite Aid would bill the city’s health insurance company for the vaccines, which are usually covered as preventative medicine. The mayor and council agreed to the proposal, and employees will be notified of the date once it’s set.

• The mayor and City Manager Bob Thomson have been working to attract a bank to Porterdale. United Bank has expressed interest, Chapman reported, but wants to build a drive through on property near the park.

Most of the council members protested the idea, saying it would be too intrusive. Chambers favored installing a walk up teller in the downtown area, which the bank had already declined doing, according to Chapman. Alternative areas for the drive-through were suggested, and Thomson said he would contact the bank, inviting them to look at the alternate sites.

Council Member Tim Savage will look into companies willing to install and operate a downtown ATM machine.

• Main Street Director reported that all downtown restaurants had paid the $25 needed to generate wrist bands unique to each vendor. Adults over 21 coming downtown for the July 4 celebrations could purchase a wrist band, allowing them to carry alcoholic beverages off premises, but within a designated area downtown.

• Kelly also reported on a meeting with the Friends of Porterdale and the Porterdale Women’s Club to talk about the alumni reunion in fall. Memorabilia is being collected and will be displayed in a climate-controlled room at the gym.

• Attempts by the city to make it possible for residents to pay their water bills, and court fees and fines using a credit card hit a snag, City Clerk Megan Reid reported. Credit card companies would levy a 3 percent fee on water bills paid by card in person. Reid said it had been suggested to set up a terminal in city hall so people unable to pay online or by phone could come in and pay their bill.

• The council voted to award a commendation to Todd Scott for his actions on May 31 at the Magnet Package Liquor Store on Ga. Highway 20 and Bell Road when a gunman began firing on customers and staff. According to Rockdale Sheriff Eric Levett, Scott, returning fire from the back of the store, effectively saved the lives of those around him.

• Robert Witcher, Public Works Director shared a list of properties cited for blight ordinance and code violations. The cases will be put before a judge in July. He reported that the department is developing a vacant home registry, and owners could be fined for failing to report a vacancy.

• Chief of Police Jason Cribbs will build from materials on hand a four-stall carport for police vehicles, making it more convenient for maintenance on vehicles and for the canine unit.
The work session was followed by a special called City Council Meeting. Items approved by the council include:

• a resolution to open a bank account for the disk golf course fundraiser;

• permission to allow adults to bring and drink beer and wine in the Porter Memorial Gym for a proposed September film series.

• a public hearing for a beer, wine and distilled spirits lilcence for The Company Store, owned by Council Member Tim Savage and his business partner, Allen Abbot. Savage rescued himself from the vote, taking a seat in the audience to explain The Company Store was opened to sell deli meat, cheese and sandwiches out of the front of the store. Later this year, in the back part of the store, located at 2001 Main St., family style prix fixe meals, prepared by Abbott or a celebrity chef, would be served three or four nights a week.

• the Council approved the request for the beer, wine and distilled spirit license for The Company Store.