March 2019

We consistently tout Johns Creek as an exceptional city. Even our tagline asks residents, businesses and visitors to “be the exception.” 

On a monthly basis we share exceptional projects and stories which demonstrate all that is happening within our city. This month, and I relish the pun, is no exception.

As we enter the final month of the first quarter, allow me to detail an aspect of our city which I feel best promotes our city when compared to our regional municipal neighbors: our city’s parks and natural resources. 

Not only are we fortunate enough to be bordered by approximately 13 miles of picturesque beautiful and lively waters of the Chattahoochee River, but we are also blessed with more than 400 acres of wonderful parkland, facilities, playgrounds, ball fields and community centers. Our parks and natural resources are truly exception and improving by the month.

The voters in Johns Creek had the vision and commitment to enhance our parks and greenspace offerings through the approval of a $40 million bond issuance of for recreation (Park Bond prioritizations). The Johns Creek Parks Bond effectively allowed the city to more than double its available parkland over the past two and a half years.

The city was able to create new park space through the acquisition of 200-plus acres at Quail Hollow and Cauley Creek. In addition to the city’s four main parks, the city is completing the construction documents to add two new pocket parks, one new neighborhood park, and two new large parks. Programming within parks includes activities and sports for youth and people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. 

The city has also completed improvements or just begun work at a number of our parks and facilities. Just last year the city upgraded facilities by installing turf fields at Newtown and Shakerag parks. 

The conversion to new synthetic turf fields at Newtown Park included the main soccer field and lacrosse field as well as the main field at Shakerag Park. The synthetic turf field installation is consistent with the recommendations of the Recreation and Parks Strategic Plan and allow the sports seasons to occur with minimal disruption as well as increased play time in conditions that would have otherwise been lost to rain.

We also had the opportunity to participate in a celebratory ribbon cutting marking the completion of additional parks bond projects including the Autrey Mill bus turn around and parking lot improvement and the relocation of the historic smokehouse at Autrey Mill. 

The smokehouse, which is more than 100 years-old, was previously situated on property off Rogers Bridge Road in the Shakerag area of Johns Creek. City staff had the smokehouse moved to Autrey Mill Nature Preserve, where it will be featured as a historical attraction.

The parking lot features a porous flexible grid that will contain 40 parking spots and three handicap parking spots. The parking provides a sufficient radius to accommodate a bus turn-around located adjacent to the Visitors Center. 

These are in addition to the recent renovation of the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve farm museum creating a lasting and unique set of amenities and offerings for residents and visitors.

We now have a completed design for the Rogers Bridge replacement over the Chattahoochee River which is likely to become a visitor favorite multi-use trail connecting Johns Creek and Rodgers Bridge park in Duluth. 

I had the pleasure of participating, along with Mayor Pro Tem Lenny Zaprowski, Council members John Bradberry and Steve Broadbent, and City staff, in the groundbreaking of the turf infields at Ocee Park. Construction at Ocee Park began in February and the project includes the construction of five turf infields and is expected to be complete in about the spring, weather permitting. In addition to the fields at Ocee, the city has upgraded existing restroom facilities and is in the process of completing construction of a brand new restroom facility at the far end of the park. 

We are also expanding our pickleball resources. During the 2015 Recreation and Parks Strategic Plan process many residents expressed a desire for the city to have pickleball courts. The Pickleball Project at Newtown Park allows the city to convert two (of six) tennis courts into four pickleball courts. 

The courts are expected to be complete by the beginning of March. We have had many positive responses from existing and prospective pickleball players who are excited to hear that we will have regulation pickleball courts with a much improved playing surface.

Have you come into play with any of the city’s recent park improvements? I invite you to share your park and natural resource stories with me. Let me know about your exceptional experience in one of our parks or at one of our many events or activities. And please don’t hesitate reach out to me to ask questions or concerns. You can always reach me either by email mike.bodker@johnscreekga.gov or phone 678-451-3313.