Thursday, July 24 2014 11:46 PM EDT2014-07-25 03:46:21 GMT
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night.More >>
Former Associated Press writer Jim Purks shared his experiences with people in Albany Thursday night. More >>
February 16, 2004
Dougherty County - Generations of South Georgians enjoyed the natural wonder of Radium Springs and the manmade beauty of the historic casino. The flood-damaged building was demolished late last year. And now, the area is off-limits. That will change eventually. Monday, nearly 50 people attended a hearing on the future of the property.
Radium Springs washes 79 year-old Dewey Parkman with a river of memories. "I drove past Radium Springs for 30 years. I love that place," said Parkman.
Parkman doesn't want the Georgia wonder to remain fenced in. So, he and more than 40 others told County and DNR leaders their hopes for the site. "Let's build it back," said Parkman. He wants to build a replica of the Casino including an amphitheater overlooking the Springs and a second floor ballroom. "You can ride up and down the road, you can go upstairs and there's the ballroom. Same as it always was."
But, the building would have to be elevated out of the flood plain which would be a costly project. Parkman proposed adding a moveable gift shop and eatery to pay the bills. "Tax payers don't have any money, the state doesn't have any money, the county doesn't have any money. We must get tourist, we must provide for tourist that they key," said Parkman.
But, most of the people at the hearing don't want the land commercialized. They suggested walking trails, an outdoor classroom for aquatic education, and maybe a hatchery for the native bass.
The Radium Springs Casino Preservation Group lost the battle to save the Casino. But, they are still fighting for their proposal to create a botanical garden on the site. "There's one in Athens, Atlanta, and Columbus. But, there's not one in South Georgia," said group member Marion Hay.
Indigenous plants would shape the landscape. And group members say since the state owns most of the land, state money should pay for the project. "We think the money to develop, revitalize, and claim it can come from the State of Georgia and all the taxpayers. All taxpayers can come and enjoy it," said Hay.
After listening to the ideas, County commissioners decided to hire a consultant to create a land use plan. "We want them to come in and take some of the ideas our citizenry gave, along with having some other hearings and getting together certain groups," said Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard.
The County will pay the consultant with FEMA money left over from the demolition cost. County leaders don't know exactly how much money remains, but they say it's ten of thousands of dollars.