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Alpharetta Wants Park and Rec Cooperation Between Cities

The City Council plans to initiate talks with Milton and Johns Creek about sharing resources and considering not charging non-resident fees for programs.

Alpharetta City Council decided to move forward with plans to talk with the cities of Milton and Johns Creek about cooperation and sharing of resources for Parks and Recreation.

Milton is eager, but has few resources and fewer parks. Johns Creek has plenty of Park and Recreation assets, including Ocee Park and Newtown Park, but hasn't come to a consensus on working with Alpharetta.

Ocee Park is a special source of frustration for council members who live in the Kimball Bridge Road area. The park is completely surrounded by Alpharetta subdivisions. About half of the participants at the Johns Creek park have been Alpharetta residents. But Councilman D.C. Aiken said Johns Creek stopped following an understanding the two cities had about non-resident fees at the park, drastically raising them.

"We kind of got set up two years ago by them. They made a deal and didn't keep to the deal and that's unfortunate," Aiken said.

Since the fees were raised, participation in Ocee Park programs has dropped significantly, he said.

See Also: Alpharetta Officials Protest Resident Favoritism in Johns Creek Recreation Programs

Alpharetta has wanted to talk with Johns Creek leaders to come to some sort of understanding on park and recreation program use, but Aiken said that hasn't happened.

One idea was to have Milton come up with a lump sum to pay Alpharetta for operations costs, with Milton residents paying the same fee as residents. As Milton creates fields and programs that Alpharetta children can also use, that lump sum would be reduced.

Councilman Mike Kennedy had a different thought, saying talking to Johns Creek would be more productive as both cities have resources to share.

Mayor David Belle Isle said Johns Creek might come to the table, but Alpharetta needs to know who is going to speak on their behalf. "We just can't deal with seven people [City Council] and a city administrator," the mayor said.

Councilman Chris Owens said every time he's spoken to Johns Creek representatives, the discussion becomes emotional.

The Mayor said maybe Alpharetta can invite Johns Creek to pick someone to speak on behalf of that city's needs.

Milton is a great partner, Belle Isle said. "The program is, Milton doesn't have a lot of assets.

As an illustration of cooperation, Aiken asked Public Safety Director Gary George to explain how many police officers were cross sworn with the two towns. George said 100 percent of Alpharetta and Milton officers were cross sworn in each other's cities. "In Johns Creek, we have 14. I think they have three," he said.

Recreation Commission Chairman Jim Cregge told the City Council that for the nine years he's been on the board, it has worked to increase participation by city residents in recreation programs. And the non-resident fee had been raised to help accomplish that.

But , which is surrounded by Milton, is lucky to have 50 percent of its users and program participants from Alpharetta. When the economy improves and building resumes, more homes will be built in the area and that number will go down, Cregge said. Letting Milton residents pay the same fees as Alpharetta residents also will increase the percentage of non-city residents at North Park.

The only thing that might reverse the trend is if Milton builds a rectangular field at one of its parks that can offer lacrosse, football and soccer programs, he said.

Football at North Park has right around 49 percent participation by Alpharettans.

"Once we open up doors, numbers of people coming into program is going to go up not going to be more Alpharetta people, it's going to be people outside the city," Cregge said.

Ann Marx July 11, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Johns Creek offered to waive non resident fees to Alpharetta residents at Ocee and all Johns Creek Parks if Alpharetta agreed to waive non resident fees to their parks and they refused. This is completely in the hands of Alpharetta it is their choice the Olive Branch was offered and is still offered.
Susan July 11, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Over the years, Alpharetta has absolutely shafted non-Alpharetta residents who have wanted to participate in football, soccer, lacrosse, etc. Johns Creek is practically next door to Webb Bridge Park but Alpharetta certainly didn't do any favors for JC residents. Now Johns Creek and Milton have their own fields and parks, and the Alpharetta facilities aren't needed as much anymore, so NOW they're trying to negotiate? This is laughable.
Truthseeker July 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Alpharetta residents pay for the upkeep, maintenance and upgrades to the parks and rec. I would expect nothing less than to charge non residents a higher fee to use the facilities. However, the situation with Ocee park is different. If I recall correctly, Alpharetta agreed to allow the park to be part of John's Creek with the agreement that there would be no extra fee for Alpharetta residents. Then shortly into the agreement JC changed it's mind and went back on their word.
Travis Allen July 12, 2012 at 11:09 AM
Boo FN Hoo Alpharetta City Council...you got what you deserved with Ocee Park since you want to charge me an extra amount for each season I play softball at North Park.
baseballisberryberrygoodtome July 14, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Can't we all just get along? Remember these are activities for the local children. I am fine with paying a nominal increase to play in another county but the fees get way too high sometimes. Before I moved into Johns Creek I had to pay higher for Ocee because which was then still Alpharetta. I am dissapointed with all the local parks coaching staffs, boards and parent's, poor attitudes. Tomorrow we'll try out at Patriot Baseball - we hope it has sensible yet still competive level folks running their show. Have a meeting after a friendly game of ball between counties to remember why we play... Also need money? Host a nice baseball touney liker other city parks and use it for upkeep and shcolarships. We have really SMART people around here - where is the common sense?
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg July 14, 2012 at 02:43 AM
to the above comment: these are not just activities for children - North Park's Senior Center a good example. Personally, I feel these things would be better handled at a county level (assuming it's not Fulton County) rather than a bunch of municipalities and is one reason why I feel a Milton County is justified.
DC July 30, 2012 at 03:00 PM
The issues between Alpharetta and JC over the two parks, particularly baseball has hurt both programs but particularly Ocee. The non-resident fee has had a dramatic effect on the numbers and quality of play. To be fair there are other factors for Ocee's decline that include style of play (other leagues play dizzy dean ball) and the lack of a committment to a travel program to offer more competive players an option. The entire situation can be remedied by ending the name calling and claims of who started the issue and developing cooperation that would benefit participants young and old to select the park with no additional charges that is best suited for them.
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