Georgia: Don Carter State Park Construction Update

Work on Don Carter State Parkoff northeastern Lake Lanier is on track.

Workers pave roads leading to campsites. (Credit: Tom Reed/The Times)

“We’re pleased that we’re moving forward and everything is on schedule,” said Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator for the Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“We’re still on track to complete the park in early 2013.”

Construction work is progressing well on key parts of Don Carter State Park. During a visit last week, dump trucks and bulldozers were rolling along dirt-packed and gravel roads fingering throughout the 1,040-acre park, reports The Gainesville Times.

Once complete, Hall County’s first state park will feature 48 campsites with water and electricity, eight two-bedroom cottages, a visitor center, playgrounds, two boat ramps, and a beach/bathhouse in a scenic cove off the Chattahoochee River.

“This is the second state park we’ve ever built from scratch,” said Toby Evans, Northern Region manager for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, noting that the first one was Chattahoochee Bendin Newnan.

Throughout the project, workers have tried to spare as many trees as possible, he said. “And there’s been a couple of places where we (were) just going to do some reforestation,” Evans said.

Don Carter State Park will feature campsites like this one for RVs. (Credit: Tom Reed/The Times)

“The trees that we could have saved probably weren’t worth saving, so we’re just going to plant new ones.”

Construction started in December 2011, but the park dates back to 2002, when its namesake, Gainesville real estate executive Don Carter, was stepping down from the DNR board after 29 years.

Then-DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett announced the naming of the park at a going-away party for Carter at Lake Lanier Islands. Carter had identified the property, which sits off North Browning Bridge Road, to the attention of the state, which would eventually buy the land, writes The Gainesville Times.

Then, after nearly eight years of waiting for funding, a $14 million bond package would make the project a reality, with construction costs making up about $11.5 million of the total cost.

“It’s an economic stimulator and will put people to work,” Evans said, justifying the project taking place during hard economic times.

“But it was planned ahead of the downturn, and the recreational need is here.” Area and state dignitaries, including then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, gathered at the park site for a formal groundbreaking ceremony in August 2010.

“It will be a park that will benefit the working class of people,” Carter said at the time.

“There won’t be any golf courses or any big motels. It will be Mother Nature in her splendor.”

Evans said that Carter “comes out about every week” to check on the project. Once the DNR locks in a date for the park opening, “we will start advertising it and (people) can start making reservations,” he said. Evans said he’s pleased so far with the progress, and he especially appreciates the park’s many scenic vistas.

“It’s a beautiful park,” he said. A summer 2013 opening is expected.

A truck goes through the entrance gate under construction at Don Carter State Park. (Credit: Tom Reed/The Times)

Details

Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

The Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks & Historic Sites manages more than 60 properties that preserve the state’s environment and history.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Colonial Coast, the sites offer an exceptional variety of resources:

  • Mountains and canyons
  • Forests, fields, and marshes
  • Waterfalls, lakes, swamps, and rivers
  • Battlefields, historic homes, and Native American sites

Phone: (800) 864-7275

Website: gastateparks.org

Worth Pondering…

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia, Georgia, the whole day through

Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.

Georgia, Georgia, a song of you

Comes as sweet and clear as moonlight through the pines

—words by Stuart Gorrell and music by Hoagy Carmichael

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