“The new park will help fulfill resident’s demands for more recreational space. J.F. Gregory is heavily used, and the city is filling a need for more fishing, running trails, and something new: bike trails and later camping,” Carpenter said earlier this month.
While many of the features of the park such as the bike trails, fishing pond, all the running trails and camping facility are not yet complete the initial phase which includes signs, including maps to show park users where they are, restrooms and parking along with the nature/walking/running trail are ready to go.
Entry to the park is currently along Sterling Creek Drive but that is being monitored.
“Planners have been diligent in working with nearby neighborhoods to ensure they approve of what we are doing. Traffic through Sterling Creek Planation is obviously a legitimate concern, and it will be monitored closely. We will not burden the neighborhood with too many vehicles,” said Carpenter.
The 187-acre property, located west of Sterling Creek Plantation and east of Interstate 95, was purchased by the city in April of 2012 for $800,000 with the intent of converting the land, long sought after by developers, into a passive park.
Although the Richmond Hill City Council had rezoned the land for residential development in 2007 conditions attached to that rezoning stating that no road in the Sterling Creek Plantation subdivision would be used for access. That along with a required easement of essentially 60 feet required for an access road (Elbow Swamp Road) to be built along the Riceboro-Southern Railroad tracks effectively landlocked the property.
If the amount of traffic produces safety or congestion problems plans are to move access to Elbow Swamp Road once wastewater infrastructure is complete there.
While the park is accessible 24 hours a day seven days a week, practical use of the facility is from sunrise to sunset as the trail is not lighted. Due to presence of snakes and alligators in the wetlands city officials have placed signs throughout the facility warning park users to exercise caution. The park is patrolled by both Richmond Hill Police Department officers and Richmond Hill Park and Tree staff.