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Parks & Recreation

Reeling in New Skills during Jones Bridge Park Kids Fishing Day



Jones Bridge Park Fishing Day
Families prepare to fish with their bait and rods. (photos by Zoey Schlueter

Nothing is quite as exciting as learning a new skill for kids, especially when it’s free! On June 3, Jones Bridge Park hosted its annual Kid’s Fishing Day, sponsored by Gwinnett County and Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

John Lee Thomson, the Hatchery Manager at Burton Hatchery for the Georgia DNR, has worked for DNR for roughly 15 years and had his first time attending Kid’s Fishing Day at Jones Bridge Park this year.

Thomson explained that these events happen all over the state through DNR; however, Gwinnett County runs the event at Jones Bridge Park. DNR provided the trout to release into the river, and Gwinnett County ran the rest of the event. Nevertheless, what makes this event so unique every year is the accessibility of the event.

“Today is a free fishing day in Georgia, and no fishing license is required, meaning you can fish anywhere,” said Thomson.

Fishing Frenzy

The event lasted from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and had a great show out with numerous families visiting during the allotted time, ensuring plenty of time for families to enjoy the great weather and reel in some trout. For many kids, it was their first time fishing which Nathan Griswell, Volunteer Resources Coordinator, revealed is one of the main goals of the event.

“We were just releasing some trout into the river, and they bring out free rods and reels as a part of their Gateway to Fishing program, so everyone can give fishing a try,” said Griswell. “We have all kinds of county and non-county partners here that are all about being outdoors and helping people just have fun out here.”

As well as providing free rods and reels for attendees, the event also had several booths set up related to various things, such as water conservation education and a fish cleaning station provided by Scout Troop 648.

Community Building

One reason why the event brings in so many volunteers is because of the positive effects the event continuously has on the Peachtree Corners community.

“I just have fun being down there in the water and helping them release the fish and everything and just seeing the smiles on people’s faces,” said Griswell.

Overall, it was an outstanding community-building and educational event hosted by Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation Department.

Learn more about Gwinnett County events by visiting GwinnettParks.com and learn how to volunteer for similar events at VolunteerGwinnett.net.

Zoey Schlueter is a senior who attends Greater Atlanta Christian School and has lived in Peachtree Corners her whole life. She enjoys written journalism inside and outside of school and plans on pursuing journalism in college.

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Parks & Recreation

What’s going on at Jones Bridge Park and the Challenges of Urban Development



In this episode of Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager, host Rico Figliolini discusses the ongoing trash problems at Jones Bridge Park in Gwinnett County with City Manager Brian Johnson. They explore the park’s overcrowding, littering, and the challenges of managing such a popular amenity.

The conversation also touches on recent city council decisions regarding new apartment developments, focusing on smart city features, development approvals, balancing office market and community needs, navigating mixed-use development challenges, and the complexities of property rights and community growth. Tune in to hear insights on balancing community needs, maintaining public spaces, and navigating the complexities of urban development. 

00:00:00 – Jones Bridge Park Vandalism Concerns
00:01:40 – Challenges at Jones Bridge Park: Overcrowding, Lack of Oversight, and Resident Concerns
00:08:55 – Addressing Trespassing and Security Concerns at a Local Park
00:14:24 – Automated Gate Proposal for Park Closure
00:16:54 – Proposal for Improving Park Management and Funding
00:18:48 – Balancing Amenities and Maintenance Costs in Public Spaces
00:23:32 – Maintaining Public Spaces and Addressing Transient Residents
00:25:48 – Development Approvals: Recommendations and Council Decisions
00:30:27 – Balancing Office Market and Community Needs
00:34:38 – Navigating Mixed-Use Development Challenges
00:37:56 – The Complexities of Development Approvals
00:44:04 – Property Rights and Community Growth
00:47:11 – Complexities of Urban Development
00:51:34 – Addressing Affordable Housing Challenges in the Community


00:00:00 – Rico Figliolini

Hi, everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life here in Gwinnett County, the city of Peachtree Corners. I’m with Brian Johnson. Hey, Brian. How are you?

00:00:11 – Brian Johnson

Hey, Rico. Good. How are you?

00:00:13 – Rico Figliolini

Good. Good. Beautiful day. It’s been hot weather. Although, thank God, we don’t have a hurricane really coming our way. So I think we’re fine on that one.

00:00:21 – Brian Johnson

Here, here.

00:00:22 – Rico Figliolini

Before we start on our show that we do, we try to do every month about the city with our city manager, Brian, I just want to say thank you to EV Remodeling, Inc. and Eli for being a sponsor of these podcasts and a good community resident and business here in Peachtree Corners as well. They do design and build, renovation work on homes. Check them out at evremodelinginc.com. We appreciate them supporting our journalism and our podcasts. So let’s get right to it because we’ve been gone from doing this for a few weeks. But I think the first thing that we should start off with is something that’s been out there on Next Door a bit. And I don’t know if it’s quite as bad, although I’ve seen the pictures and it seems as bad. But Jones Bridge Park seems to be getting trashed on a regular basis. And July 4th wasn’t a good weekend for that with lots of stuff just being trashed all over the place there. But some people have complained about that. Some people have complained about the amount of police presence that has been called. I think one person said there were over 300 calls for police to visit in one year in 2023. I don’t know if that’s true. It sounds like a lot to me. But I thought we’d talk about it, you know, you, Brian, because, even obviously, though it’s a county the city’s park, aware of what’s going on there. And so I’m curious, what’s going on there? And, you know, does the city have anything they can do about it?

00:02:05 – Brian Johnson

So there is some challenges with Jones Bridge Park. You know, I will say also important to establish a couple things here. One, Jones Bridge Park is a county-owned and maintained park. And so, you know, there are some conversations we’ve had with them about things. And, you know, after the conversation has been had, we don’t control. You know, if it was our park, I could end up going to my parks and rec director and be like, fix it. So it is, you know, county owned, maintained by Gwinnett County Parks and Rec. Our police department is Gwinnett County PD and so their presence or you know lack thereof as some people you know have expressed frustration about is them now you know that’s not to just, you know, relinquish all involvement, but, you know, there is one of the few parks, at least in this area, that has access, like improved access down into the Chattahoochee River. Yes. So it is a very developed park because it has everything from a lot of covered pavilion space picnic tables grills it’s a gorgeous location it’s the only place on the chattahoochee river anywhere near here that has some you want to call them rapids right and then it has improved stone steps to where you can walk into the Chattahoochee and not have to like, you know, go down some little goat path or whatever.

00:04:12 – Rico Figliolini

Oh, it’s beautiful. I mean, they’ve done a great job there.

00:04:15 – Brian Johnson

It is. Then it has a big playground. And then it also has a section of it that has athletic fields where there’s league soccer.

00:04:24 – Rico Figliolini

Right. In the back right.

00:04:26 – Brian Johnson

So when you combine all of that you have a lot of people who don’t have access to a park that want to go, or excuse me, they don’t have access to nice facilities like covered pavilions and outdoor grills or whatever and they go to the park because it’s a gorgeous location. There’s things for the kids to do. You can get together, you can grill. So it attracts, you know, it’s one of those things where you create your own problem. And, you know, in this case it has. And then to compound things, there are some neighborhoods that back up right to it and we’ve even had tournaments in which Ways or just even Google Maps somebody will drive into the park and there’s no parking for like league soccer tournaments they’ll actually drive into the back of Linfield subdivision that backs up to it and walk through the side yards, the park in Linfield, and then walk between two houses that back up to the parks to get to them.

00:05:37 – Rico Figliolini

Oh, wow. No wonder some of those residents were upset. Yes. And I know the parking can be challenging there.

00:05:46 – Brian Johnson

Yes so that’s all you know so now that’s what all of us when that county as well as the city are trying to regulate you know a fourth of july weekend is you know probably one of the best examples where you just get a crush of people because everybody wants to be outside grilling and having a good time. I cannot speak to Gwinnett County Parks and Rec in that whether they planned for their parks to have, you know, a need for enhanced cleanup event you know i’d like to think that they realize the the fourth of july weekend is going to require extra you know hard to come out and get trash and all that kind of stuff that particular type of thing has not really been where a lot of the challenges are it’s been people that down there when they should not be oftentimes late at night you know I gave examples of soccer tournaments and whatever but that’s more rare what is more common is the park hours hours close at 11pm at that point you’re not supposed to be there but because there’s lack of personnel from Gwinnett County Parks and Rec or Gwinnett County Police the vehicular gate that stays open the park just past Simpson Elementary stays open because there’s nobody. They don’t have the staffing to have somebody close it every night and then reopen it the next day. So then what happens is people either know about it. They go down there and then Gwinnett PD’s presence down there, for whatever reason, has not been particularly consistent. So there are gaps in which somebody is down there and we have calls of cars down there doing donuts, drag racing.

00:07:59 – Rico Figliolini

Is it true that it’s like 300 calls? I mean, someone said they did an Opens record act, and they saw 300 times that the police were called down to the park. I mean, is that even?

00:08:11 – Brian Johnson

Well, yeah, that is potentially possible because or if you consider every call going in to be separate. So for instance, let’s say we had some motorcycles back there, doing donuts, drag revving, racing at midnight, or one in the morning. You could get five people who live in Linfield that call 911. They’ll track five, but it’s actually one incident.

00:08:45 – Rico Figliolini

Gotcha. Okay. That makes more sense. The number could get up there.

00:09:06 – Brian Johnson

But if you told me that there were 100 calls or separate instances in which 911 was called because people were trespassing and doing things late at night or whatever, at night or you know, a hundred calls a year probably would not make me say, you know, but the 300 plus, those are probably counting every individual call. But there are, I mean, one incident down there is too many, certainly many, many, you know, tens, maybe hundreds, that’s way too many. Where we have been involved of late is we have had the marshals down there on a few times where we have seen on social media there being some talk by car clubs and others that eat there. Marshals have been there and it’s hard to know if we did in fact prevent it from materializing. They’ve been down there. They’ve had cars pull in and then turn around and leave because they saw them. But we have involved there. And then the latest is, you know, currently Gwinnett County Parks and Rec, through their director, Chris Minor, is considering a proposal I proposed to them. And that is on the vehicular side chris and I had a conversation it’s many months ago but conversation about the vehicle gate being closed and he you know again intimated to me I don’t have the staff to do it and then Gwinnett PD doesn’t so I said alright this is what I’ll propose. We’ll put an LPR camera there. And there is, there is a license plate reader camera right there at the vehicular gate going into the park. So we can, when, you know, there are incidents there, we do pull video to see if we can use it. Now all these car clubs they’ll or motorcycle clubs or whatever they know about LPR cameras so oftentimes they’ll put something over their license plate when they’re getting ready to do something illegal. So the camera doesn’t always get a good face or we get a face but we don’t have any way to know their name so a face doesn’t mean anything if we can’t you know run the name. So but we do have a camera we already installed it it’s working. The second thing I proposed and he went back and said well I’ve got I said, we will buy an automated gate.

00:11:49 – Rico Figliolini


00:11:50 – Brian Johnson

Down at 11 and up at, I believe it opens at 7. And if you are stuck behind it and you come up to it, the motion will have it to where you can leave, but you wouldn’t be able to get back in.

00:12:03 – Rico Figliolini

Gotcha. Okay.

00:12:10 – Brian Johnson

Then once we install they then commit to maintaining it. And it is some degree of maintenance. Anytime you have automated it breaks more often you know, anything, than, a gate that you got to get out of your car and walk around the lock. So there is some dollar amount component to it, but that’s what I offered is you know, to, buy them an automated.

00:12:38 – Rico Figliolini

Would that be similar to, like, you’re waiting on them. Is there, I mean, is that like, that’s like a railroad thing? That’s like the one behind the Forum, I guess. That’s just a bar that goes down?

00:12:49 – Brian Johnson

That’s correct. And by the way, more solid material than like just a wood, you know, painted to, you know, some of the railroad ones are a little bit flimsy. You know, it’s more, this is both to kind of know that you’re not supposed to be there and it should be solid enough that you wouldn’t want a car to go through it because it would damage the car. Some of the railroad ones I’m not sure if it would even damage it if you know hit them.

00:13:16 – Rico Figliolini

No, no yeah I get that and I mean the only other thing I could think of is if I was a car fanatic I’d send someone to the other side of it to, like, wave the sensor so then it opens and then we could drive in. I mean

00:13:30 – Brian Johnson

Yeah, there is no way that if somebody is hell-bent on getting in the car, we can just, you know, make it.

00:13:37 – Rico Figliolini

I mean, but that’s the easiest thing. The thing I was thinking, as long as – somewhat of the same lines that you were thinking. And I’m not sure what the sheriff’s hours are. But there’s a gate there that closes. It just needs a good lock on it.

00:13:56 – Brian Johnson

There’s already a gate there, but you have to have somebody physically go out there and lock it. And then physically go out the next morning to unlock it. And what minor had said is I don’t have the staff. And Gwinnett  PD is like, we don’t have the staff to do that. So like, you know, we would love to have it closed and locked. But what I’m saying is: In lieu of that put an automated gate down And it could be two arms that you know can’t get it to go up. You can even go so far as if you’re on the other side after the park closes you could end up to where it doesn’t go up with motion. The Fields Club actually does this. There are facilities where if you’re caught behind the gate after hours, you’re not supposed to be there. You actually have to call the non-emergency number for Gwinnett PD. They have a key and they’ll get out there at, you know, whenever they can.

00:15:06 – Rico Figliolini

And that almost sounds better because, you know, if the park is closing, technically, is it at dusk or is it technically at 11 p.m.?

00:15:14 – Brian Johnson

It was 11. I mean, maybe there’s different hours. I mean, I thought it was 11.

00:15:20 – Rico Figliolini

So, I mean, I think it’s reasonable that whoever’s still there should just be stuck there and call in.

00:15:26 – Brian Johnson

They have a problem with that again, but again, that’s not our park.

00:15:30 – Rico Figliolini


00:15:31 – Brian Johnson

So, once I would turn it over at Parks and Rec, they could work that out. But no, I don’t find that unreasonable that if the hours of the park are clearly, you know articulated through signage there, you get caught behind the gate after it closes. You’ve got to call a non emergency number. They’ll have the ability to raise it. But maybe then. And I think in the Fields Club, their arrangement is if a Gwinnett PD officer has to come out and unlock the gate, they get a trespassing violation at the same time. So wait there for however long it took for somebody to have the time to get there. But that was our proposal because then it wouldn’t be staff intensive. But, you know, Chris’s point, well taken, and that is you’re providing me an amenity that does or will have to have maintenance dollars attached to it. So he was like, I need to run this up the flagpole, whatever,  I just have to come back. But that’s our current proposal.

00:16:52 – Rico Figliolini

I think that’s great. Yeah, I think you can even modify that to the degree like you said with what Linfield does, guess. Because how many times is someone really going to be stuck behind there anyway? At some point, is it every night? Doubtful right? I it’s not going to be like that. And if there is, that’s another problem. But, right? And the cleanup I can understand that being an issue. part, And that’s not always. I know there is an issue like that especially summertime weekends where the trash bins are overflowing. There’s not enough trash bins. They don’t want to put more trash bins. Maybe they put plastic bags there, but people do steal the plastic bags. You know, there’s other parks. You know, if we had a nonprofit set up called like Friends of Jones Bridge Park, you know, where they raise some money, they go and they buy some more containers for the parks. Because maybe, like you said, I mean, there’s always expenses to maintain things. People don’t understand that even Simpsonwood, which is a passive park, which is what Jones Bridge is, that budget, I’m sure, I think they said was $370,000 a year for that park. That sounds like a lot, but there’s trash collection every week. There’s a bunch of other things that have to be done there, mulching and all that stuff.

00:18:12 – Brian Johnson

Well, Jones Bridge is an active park because it has activated, it’s got active programming. It’s got soccer.

00:18:18 – Rico Figliolini

True, true, true. That’s true.

00:18:19 – Brian Johnson

So it is. Yeah, I would supplement what you said by just saying, you know, as government, anytime we’re looking to add an amenity, there are two types of dollars that you have to consider that is the upfront cost of constructing the amenity, improving the amenity, whatever. Take it up. I mean, we get constantly people who tell the city, oh, you should just buy that property and turn it into a park. Well, one, is as soon as you have a public parcel, people want it to be improved. Hey, what picnic table is there? Can you put a playground or whatever? And now you get into the second dollar amount and that is the annual amount that you’ve got to budget to maintain it. We have pushed back in some cases on things that we have the money to do right then, but we know that it’s going to be adding an annual cost that we just do not want to go down that road. And so you have to make the decision that, look, we either need to do this, maintain this right, or don’t do it. You know, our Town Center is a good example. I mean, you know, we’ve created, you know, some of our own maintenance, you know, challenges, maintenance obligations by putting in more playground equipment, attracting more people. So we have to, but we committed that that’s our downtown and we’re going to make sure we manage it right. If you can’t, then close it or do something, you know, and there are even intermediate steps. If grills, grills are actually a controversial thing to add to a park.

00:20:11 – Rico Figliolini

Yes, for sure.

00:20:12 – Brian Johnson

Grills there, it attracts people who want to spend time with larger groups of people. If you don’t have that, you would not have as many of the fourth of july you know stuff. So if people unfortunately don’t take care of things and take care of their own trash, which they should. And by the way a non-profit or a community group has been discussed before. The problem is I’ve been in meetings with even Gwinnett County Parks and Rec in the room, but residents talking about what’s going on. Oftentimes when it comes up, the residents are kind of like, you know, A) who’s going to be part of that group? So there’s a lot of people who have a lot of demands on their time. And so it’s going to invariably be the people who live right there. And then their other argument is you are charging us Gwinnett County Parks and Rec specific millage or property tax to maintain these things. You know, why are we having to supplement you taking taxes from us that are specific to parks and rec and now we also do extra work because you’re saying you aren’t allocating the resources necessary to maintain your home.

00:21:37 – Rico Figliolini

This is why there are cities like Duluth and Johns Creek, I believe does this that have their own parks department because this way they know they can zone down to their locality they can take care of their own parks. You know Gwinnett is huge, Gwinnett does a great job the parks department, I think does a really great job in maintaining a lot of the sports facilities a lot of the parks but it’s a demanding thing like you said. I mean it’s and you got to deal with people’s just people being trashy. 4th of July there’s, if there’s not enough trash bins, they don’t, they’re not going to take trash home with them. They’re going to leave it there. And unfortunately, and that’s a sad thing, but that’s just the way it is.

00:22:16 – One of three, you’ve either got to have a representative down there during the day to be policing as it’s happening.

00:22:23 – Rico Figliolini


00:22:24 – Brian Johnson

If not you either can put extra trash bins out there or remove some of the amenities that are creating trash. Which you hate to do saying when people don’t you know their behavior is such. That’s another, I’m not recommending I’m just saying that. Or you allocate you know you come up with the schedule that you know the day after 4th of July, you’re going to have extra crews going out there to clean it up because, you know, it’s like our concerts. The morning after concerts on the town green we have extra staff that goes out there and cleans it up really well because we knew that there’s going to be a lot of people on the town green. People just don’t take care of stuff that’s not theirs. It’s sad, but it’s reality. And we just have to, you know, allocate resources accordingly. And so, yeah, there are some things that can be done to mitigate this. You know unfortunately Jones Bridge Park is a great amenity but great amenities attract people from parts way outside of Peachtree Corners and you know and more people than the residents would normally load on that park. And, you know, that’s the downside of having a great unique amenity.

00:23:50 – Rico Figliolini

So at least the city’s talking to the county and you’re just waiting to hear back at least about that gate.

00:23:56 – Brian Johnson

That particular thing, yes, we will continue to. Because it is in our corporate limits and we are interested. And those residents there should not be dealing with what they’re dealing with. So, you know, but you know, certainly it would be better if we controlled it directly. No doubt about it. We don’t.

00:24:17 – Rico Figliolini

All right. So cool. I’m glad we got to talk about that. I know that it’s a, it is a big deal. I mean, this stuff. And you’re right. People just don’t take care of things that are not there sometimes, which segues a little bit into apartments to some degree, right? It’s not equity. It’s transient a bit, right? People rent apartments and stuff. Apartments are not a bad thing per se. It’s just if it’s done well. And two apartment zonings just came up, right? The Day building and the Da Vinci Court applications. And I was reading before I knew that they were both denied. I was reading a bit of the conditions on the Day building one, for example, that was proposed for 248 units with a minimum of like 3,000 square feet of commercial space still to be retained. And there was a bunch of really good, strong conditions on here about smart development, smart city developments, LED lights, license plate readers have to be there, security systems on the property, smart home technology within the residential units. It’s all like good stuff. Good, good, good.

00:25:30 – Brian Johnson

Well, Rico, I mean, you probably won’t toot your own horn, so I will. But, you know, some of those have been the result of previous conversations you and I have had on this very podcast. Where we’ve talked about are there things city can do when developers are coming in front of us wanting something to make it better. And my job as an application works through the process with the help of staff is to make a project as good as I can on the off chance that it’s approved. Even in instances where the recommendation from staff might be to deny for various reasons, my job is still, because I don’t know, you know, I don’t vote and council still has to vote. So I have to be prepared for either one. So, you know, even if in instances where we’ll recommend denial, we will still continue to put pressure on the applicant to agree to conditions to make the product the best we can. If, in fact, council says, yes, Mr. city manager we hear your recommendation but we like it we’re going to approve it then at least I know I did everything I could to make it the best. So that’s no different here I mean it didn’t get approved if it had been we made it as good of a product as we could have possibly made it.

00:27:02 – Rico Figliolini

And I agree and you guys have done a great job. And certainly through conversations, I mean, you’ve added things even beyond what I would like to see. But I’m glad that you’re also incorporating stuff like that because it’s, you know, being able to be a smart city and work these developments in a smart way makes sense to me, right? If we keep saying we’re a smart city, then we better be making sure that what comes to fruition addresses some of that, right? Because otherwise, what’s the point? And, you know, having, I mean, there was also, I think you guys came up with the participation of developments like this in the crime-free multifamily housing program, which I thought was great. The individually metered areas of apartment units. This way, at some point, could they be made into condo equity property? Yes, by doing that. Even putting that they have to put $20,000 worth of minimum value of public art in the lobby. Instead of this just being a cookie cutter, trying to let’s just fit 240 apartments on some hill, which is what the big building is essentially on. So I’m glad that you guys are doing that. But let’s get into why then, because DaVinci Core was another one that we applied for apartment development. I forget how many units. And this was basically using an empty parking space to a degree, I guess. I know there’s a moratorium that you all placed on the Central Business District. Did that run? That was for six months, right?

00:28:40 – Brian Johnson

It is. We’re currently in it. But these both, if somebody, an applicant had actually or a developer had dropped an application in even an hour before the moratorium starts, they got in the door. We can’t, you know, so these that they had been in the process for a while. I mean, as you know, these things really once the application is officially in our process, unless we push it along a little faster for other reasons, it’s generally 90 to 120 days before it is actually voted on. So it takes some time.

00:29:18 – Rico Figliolini

Well, I don’t know if we can say this, but the city council voted denial on both of these, 7-0 denial. One of them was, I don’t know if the other one was, the Day building was actually recommended for approval by the planning department, I believe, because it fits. Both of them were. But the city council representatives of the people decided seven to nothing that these should not move forward. Spirit of the moratorium or other reasons?

00:29:52 – Brian Johnson

Yeah, the moratorium didn’t really have anything to do with these two. So moratorium was really just to give us a brief period of time to take a closer look at a very specific part of the city, and in our case, Central Business District. And really even more granular than that, the office product within it, and drill down a little bit more on making sure that both we have some additional things that might protect us from having just more of a crush of these mixed-use developments that have aspects of it Council or the community doesn’t want. At the same time, maybe looking at certain areas where we might actually loosen the code to allow for some creative uses of underperforming office because you’ve got to be very careful. You know we are a, you know second largest municipality in Georgia with no city property tax. One of the reasons that’s the case, about 30% of our general fund budget is from business license revenue. So we’ve got to make sure we’re doing everything we can to ensure that businesses are healthy and they’re generating income in this city so that then we get business license revenue from it. And right now the office market is really soft. And there’s a lot of underperforming office buildings in which the owners are coming to us saying, oh, I can’t bill it. I’m underwater. Will you let me redevelop it into. Well, those are coming and we don’t get to choose what applicants come here. So everybody has a legal right to ultimately be heard by council with a vote of yes or no. So we’re trying to make, trying to tweak the comp plan section of the central business district. We’re thinking about breaking out the Town Center, Forum kind of that area right there that’s more retail centric and make that a little bit more unique from Tech Park. Right now they’re together as part of our central business district. And as you well know, our local economy is both. But Tech Park’s type of use is way different than a retail hub like Town Center.

00:32:28 – And the retail hub is part of the entertainment overlay.

00:32:44 – Brian Johnson

There’s an overlay over that to you where you can, do things like walk out of a restaurant with a beer and walk down the sidewalk, and window shop or go to the town, whatever. But yeah so, we’re trying to make that central business district break it down even into a more granular level. It might be able to allow us to, again, on one extreme, maybe protect ourselves from, you know, constantly getting stuff. So this will allow us to kind of forecast to people who are looking at it, what we may or may not, or council may or may not be open to. But also, you know, tweaking some things. I mean, you and I talked prior to the podcast about, you know, an existing office building that was very close to putting in pickleball inside of what was or actually still is a commercial office building broken up into offices for you know white collar administrative occupants. They were going to gut the whole thing and the reason is, is because right now there’s not a lot of people looking for office space. And the owner’s like I’m trying to get creative here, so we’ve got to be creative or make sure that our code for the right things in the right instances might allow for a little bit more creative things than our zoning code foresaw when it was written many, many decades ago. And so that’s why the moratorium exists. It did not have anything to do with council’s consideration of these two applications.

00:34:18 – Rico Figliolini

From what you heard from the council, is there opportunity for these to come back in different forms. Like, you know, obviously 248 units, studio, one, two bedroom, multifamily. I think that was, we were talking about stacked flats in the Day building rezoning. You know, no one’s saying that, you know, this is a MUD, multi-use development or mixed use development, right? Yeah. Mixed use. The problem with that is that these types of things, and I can see why the moratorium was put in place, because all these applications that are coming is like, we want to put these 250-plus apartments and we’ll keep 3,000 square feet or 2,500 feet or 1,200 feet as restaurant or breakfast place or something. So they’re trying to fit, they’re trying to say they’re mixed use when in reality it’s an apartment development. And there’s no mixed use really to it. Can this come back?

00:35:33 – Brian Johnson

We have had a few of those symbolic things but we amended our ordinance, I don’t know, a year ago. And now you know, you can’t have a use that exceeds, I can’t remember exactly, like maybe one use, exceed more than 60% of the 100%. So you can’t have 98% residential, 1% commercial, 1% retail. You can’t play that game and then call it mixed use.

00:35:57 – Rico Figliolini

Or is it a mixed formula of apartments and equity, like the stack flats? That would be considered equity, I guess?

00:36:00 – Brian Johnson

No, still residential.

00:36:02 – Rico Figliolini

It’s still residential.

00:36:04 – Brian Johnson

Remember, equity versus rental cannot be a consideration in and of itself of whether something is approved or not. A parcel, under the zoning procedures law, a parcel has to be considered whether a residential use is good for that parcel or not. You can’t end up saying, well, only if it’s equity or only if it’s age-restricted or only if it. Those things bubble up. Developers oftentimes will offer to do that in return for improving their odds. But that cannot be a consideration of something because you have to understand, you know, these denials, you know, when staff does a report, we have to objectively look at whether or not the application is in, you know, conflict with any local code law character area that kind of thin. If it meets all those criteria we’re not really these recommendations are not like I wake up one morning and I’m like yeah I think one go there, it’s the recommend approval because it meets all of the legal.

00:37:22 – Brian Johnson

Sure, sure.

00:37:25 – Brian Johnson

Now, that’s merely to say that. Council, each individual has to vote their own conscience, and they all have other considerations. So, you know, that’s not. But I bring that up to say, you just asked the question of could they come back. Anything can come back, but it can come back in various ways. An applicant can wait for the cooling off period and present the same exact thing. And timing sometimes matters. Those comments have come up about these two mixed-use development applications are very close to the Town Center, a Town Center in which there are two previously approved residential units that are not completed yet. One is under construction, Solis, there on the Town Center side, and then North American hasn’t started theirs yet. So there’s been talk about timing. But that’s one way to come back. Another way is is they could re-engage with the city and say hey maybe if we tweak the site plan to you know have this or whatever, the parcel that’s basically at the corner of Engineering and 141 right across on the west side of 141 from Racetrack and Peachtree Corners Liquor, they submitted a mixed use development that had 275 apartment units. Along with some other, you know, two other uses and that was denied. And then they came back and just made it a townhome and just had 75 townhomes.

00:39:06 – Rico Figliolini

Right. So they’ll probably sell for 750,000 or more.

00:39:11 – Brian Johnson

So that was a way for them to come back but it was a different product. The other way is you know also I have to understand in the case of the owner of the Da Vinci Court property they have filed a suit against us. So we will be in front of a judge at some point and if a judge finds that that the denial was not based on legally defensible reasons, the judge will kick it back and force Mayor and Council to consider that site again.

00:39:56 – Rico Figliolini

Okay. So that happened once before, or that happens all the time, actually. But even before the city was approved, it became a city. That happened where Town Center is, where the properties, Charlie Roberts, sued because he felt that it was not a good zoning. And in some ways, he probably was correct about where it was. So he got courts to go back.

00:40:30 – Brian Johnson

Yes, it forced the county to consider and they did approve. And then he came back to the city with a product and it was going to be, well, yeah, it was denied filed suit but then there was conversation amongst us and he withdrew that in return for coming back with what was ultimately the product that he sold it for. So it does happen and in instances, a judge could say, nope, mayor and council, you did not, that was a violation of that property owner’s right to their highest and best use. You did not meet zoning procedure law. Try again.

00:41:20 – Rico Figliolini

I can see that. I think if I don’t recall the exact details of the comprehensive plan, but I think, doesn’t that property, if you look at the comprehensive plan 2040, I guess, and you look at where that property backs up to or borders, is it other offices or is it the area of land that in the plan says could be multi-use family? You know I mean, he could come back and say.

00:41:51 – Brian Johnson

Yeah this is a good point. Our comp plan both of these mixed use applications were in the character area in which our comp plan said would be appropriate to have dense residential. You know, the density of residential is fitting in a town center, downtown area. So from that aspect, our comp plan does say that it was an appropriate use there. It doesn’t go any farther than to say dense residential, again, because you can’t solely based on what type of residential, don’t get into rental equity, age restricted or whatever. So it doesn’t say that, oh, it’s appropriate for equity dense residential. That can’t be in and of itself a consideration. But dense residential is an industry-accepted appropriate use in downtown areas. That one we didn’t make up. We’re not unique in that regard. Now, again, community may say we don’t care and put pressure on the elected officials. And, you know, we certainly are at a point, I will say, that we have a lot of, I mean, we have a significant enough of a resident base that moved here. You know, they oftentimes when they’re not happy with a decision council made or they’re wanting to get their comments and, you know, front of council before council is on something. Oftentimes I’ll start with a, I moved here in 1992 and oh the city has grown and traffic has gotten worse or whatever and I do not disagree. You know I have no doubt that those comments are true however we as a city as many people don’t realize, have a limitation to our ability to say no. A property owner who has a legal right to a highest and best use of their property. And when we are located in a growing metro area, there is a constant demand for residential. And then a property owner is like, I can get a higher and better use of my property with putting residential on it than I currently can get. It starts to get into a difficult area. And those who think that we can hit the pause button on growth, that is impossible. The city does not have the power to just indiscriminately say, nope, we’re done growing. We’re not going to need more people. And that’s where it gets, you know, again, it’s challenging. The most difficult decision I have to present to council for consideration are land use decisions. But again also just because property owners want to get more money there are certain things that if they don’t meet you’re kind of like, no I’m sorry. You know, I think. It could be Rico you’re like look I could get more money selling my house demoing it and constructing, I don’t know.

00:45:25 – Rico Figliolini

A duplex.

00:45:27 – Brian Johnson

Something like that. And then we say, no, it’s not appropriate because you are in a neighborhood that are single family detached residential. So it’s not appropriate. Those are easy. There’s always extreme. It’s where you get into where, you know you don’t have something that clear it’s right next to one that already is what they want.

00:45:50 – Rico Figliolini

Yeah it’s a, I can understand it’s a difficult thing.

00:45:52 – Brian Johnson

It is yeah. I’m trying to say that there’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer. I’m only just trying to make sure that people understand that the city is not lured over land use in such a way that Mayor and Council can literally just say no or yes indiscriminately. It has to be based on people’s principles.

00:46:17 – Rico Figliolini

But this is also why the comprehensive plan is there. And people should understand that next time it gets updated. What, in four years? I think it was just recently updated, right?

00:46:30 – Brian Johnson

Yeah, about four years from now or so, maybe it’ll be updated again. It gets updated every few years.

00:46:37 – Rico Figliolini

Right. So people should be aware of that because that is what guides a lot of this. Because they can point to that eventually and say, well, you denied me, but your plan shows I should be able to do this type of development. It doesn’t say specific, like you said, departments or equity, but does talk about density and stuff like that. And what you expect that the city, you know, how this will all pan out because in a controlled way, that’s what the plan is. The plan is to provide a controlled way of expansion of a city’s population that will naturally grow, and that’s what developers look at. And if the developer comes back and says, well, you know, this shows I should be able to do that, bought the land for that reason, or I own this and I can’t do the office building. I mean, I just saw Dell, I think, was trying to get all their employees back for full time in the office five days a week. And half their employees said, we’re not coming back. We could do hybrid two days a week, you know, at home, three days in, but we’re not coming back. So what do you do? Do you fire half your workforce because they’re refusing to come back? I mean, it’s such a changed world.

00:47:55 – Brian Johnson

And then, you know, even on things that the use itself isn’t necessarily controversial, it’s just the call it growth. You know you have some anti-growth people who it doesn’t matter what it is they don’t want it to change. You’ve got to be careful because when markets change properties go through you know phases. You know would we rather have an empty office building that’s in decay potentially dragging down the neighborhood lot? Or do we want to work with the property owner to try to find something that’s you know we got criticism on the property I mentioned earlier where they came in with 275 apartments denied and they came with 75 townhomes. So now those who only care about equity versus rental, they were kind of like, alright, they’re equity. We still had a contingent of residents who were like, I don’t know why you’re letting them do this. It’s going to increase traffic. Well, that’s potentially true if you consider that the office that was there at the big surface parking lot, it was completely vacant and the office building was no longer actually habitable because it had water damage. But there were people who would have rather that thing sit there like that because they didn’t want any more cars. And you’re just like, okay, you know. But that property is also not generating revenue for the city. And then it’s dragging property values down because appraisals are based on comparables. And it has a ripple effect that we as a city cannot ignore and that’s what makes these decisions really complicated and it is not and can never be as cut and dry as somebody who’s like we should just seal off the city to growth or we could never have any more apartments or we could never allow for that. We can’t do that legally and we shouldn’t be doing that functionally because our local economy is very nuanced and complicated and important. If we don’t want to have, levy a millage rate on residents of the city. Right now the business community is holding up, you know, that revenue stream. And you know the city’s not taking money from you and I, Rico, merely based on the value of our residential property we own.

00:50:30 – Rico Figliolini

Right, yes. Only the county does that.

00:50:31 – Brian Johnson

Right. But most cities do.

00:50:36 – Rico Figliolini

Yes. So we’ve, you know it’s good to have opposition because it provides creativity. It provides a way to make a project better. But, you know, I certainly disagree with those that feel that things should exactly stay the same. Like the Forum at one point. Well, why was that being changed and stuff? Because they would prefer having the 17 empty stores that were there at one point.

00:51:03 – Brian Johnson

And growing.

00:51:04 – Rico Figliolini

Yes. So, people, you know, obviously, you know, people, well, you know, the rent’s going up and they’re not letting people, you know, you don’t know other people’s businesses and what’s necessary to actually make that business work or what their cash flow is. Because maybe it’s not as good as you think, you know, because the market is not quite there. Or maybe they’re trying to make it a little different and stuff. So yeah, opposition is fine because that does help make projects better. But because we could go down this road forever, I mean, there’s things I’d like to see. There’s things that I’d like to see development come in and say, you know what, 30% of our apartments are going to be made and only rented to median income people. Really affordable versus, let’s say, our normal apartment rent is $2,500 for a two-bedroom. We’ll make these $1,400 for a two-bedroom. But you have to meet that median income that allowable and make it affordable. I mean, there’s all sorts of nuances.

00:52:03 – Brian Johnson

We’re working on that, Rico. We’re working on that very thing. Oh absolutely.

00:52:05 – Rico Figliolini

Are you working on that? I’d like to see affordable housing here. Yeah. Because, good.

00:52:09 – Brian Johnson

We are seeing if we can’t get, you know, call it, you know, starter home, you know, call it workforce housing, whatever. But yes, we are looking at maybe having a restriction on the title that the owner can’t sell it for a period of time into the future except to somebody who’s making a percentage of the area median income.

00:52:40 – Rico Figliolini

Okay. I mean, all those things. Other states are doing it. Other counties are doing that. I mean, I have friends whose kids can’t. They’re just saying, I can’t buy anything here in Peachtree Corners because there’s nothing. And I’m not making enough to do that purchase. You know, maybe they’re doing well. They’re doing a household income of $80,000 between two, a husband and wife, or $100,000, which sounds like a lot, but that’s not a lot when you’re dealing with buying a home and you have to put down a certain amount of money on it. So, yeah, I mean, we could keep talking about that. Maybe we should do a show on that, actually.

00:53:15 – Brian Johnson

Well, we should, definitely. I’ll tell you, you bring up a good point. Here’s something that many people don’t realize, because it’s only a phenomenon that’s happened over the last couple of years but for a long time and for legitimate reasons people were very protective of you know oftentimes we’ll just use Simpson Elementary School as an example. A very high performing elementary school that people wanted to get their kids into. And its performance made the area that fed into that more valuable. When I bought my home in the Simpson Elementary School District eight years ago, I could have taken my exact home, picked it up and dropped it into you know Berkeley Lake Elementary or something and I would have lost fifty thousand dollars of value. Same exact home, different school feeder. So people were always protective of oh we don’t want to overcrowd the schools we want it to be whatever. Do you know that Pinckneyville Middle School, both Peachtree Elementary and Simpson Elementary have had declining student populations over the last three years and are under enrolled? And the reason for that, take Simpson Elementary. Most, in fact, as it stands right this second, all of the residential units are zoned to be an ownership and equity product. There’s no apartments feeding it. The house values are so high that people who have elementary school age kids haven’t in their career made enough money to be able to afford a half a million dollar home in Simpson. So they can’t afford it. And of course, interest rates hurt. And then you also don’t have turnover from the people who are currently in them.

00:55:23 – Rico Figliolini

Oh, yeah. Who wants to sell at this point.

00:55:24 – Brian Johnson

6,000 square foot homes that are now empty nesters but they’re like we could get a good dollar amount for our home but then wherever we go we’re going to have to pay through the nose as well or the big one is I have a three percent interest rate or I don’t own it or I don’t have a mortgage at all and now if I want to buy I’ve got to pay 7% interest. I’m just going to stay in my home. So you don’t have homes becoming available and then you don’t have younger families able to afford it. So because of it, we don’t have the feeder for those. So Simpson Elementary is in danger of losing some of their paraprofessionals that are not teaching class, but they’re kind of supporting. Same with Pinckneyville Middle School, because their student population is down and they’re actually under-enrolled. We get comments as recent as the last couple of weeks. Oh, even on the last two rezonings. Oh, it’s going to overcrowd the schools.

00:56:29 – Rico Figliolini

No, that it’s not.

00:56:33 – Brian Johnson

The schools are down. But, you know, just people.

00:56:37 – Rico Figliolini

People don’t understand. It’s the headcount that funds the schools. They don’t have enough students. They’re not going to get that budget from the county.

00:56:47 – Brian Johnson

Budget goes down, teachers go down. But also, you know, right before our podcast, I just met with a number of residents who provided some really good recommendations on how we can improve the information about land use decisions the city is making, you know, about applications coming in. Making it easier to find the information, making it easier to understand the process, things we’re going to be adding to the website to make it better. Based on some of the recent public hearings and, you know, how people found out about it. So we’re always looking to improve as well and make sure that all of our residents, the more they know about the complications of this and understand what council is faced with, the more they’ll appreciate the challenging decision council made, but they did the best that they can. And the council did not make these decisions based on rolling up to the final meeting barely knowing what’s going on and at the end of the day kind of being like you know where’s the win although that way they spend time and we spend time with them educated on this and they do a great job of making decisions on really complicated land use development.

00:58:08 – Rico Figliolini

I think, you know, part of, I mean, this is good what we do. I think a lot of people listen to the podcast in a variety of ways, whether it’s audio or video on YouTube or Facebook and stuff. I think we’re going to try to make a better effort also in reporting some of the things coming up because we don’t always do that. We’re doing post coverage sometimes. We’re a feature magazine, so it’s a little different, right? But I think we’re going to start doing a little bit more of that coverage so that people can be aware of the things coming up also.

00:58:45 – Brian Johnson

I’ll offer you one other thing, Rico. I don’t know how resource intensive it is or if it’s advantageous for you, but as you know how to look, when we get applications in at a certain point, staff report’s done and we make it available to the public so they can see the application, they can see the staff assessment as it’s getting ready to go to planning commission. If you want to take individual, you know, land use cases, and do special podcasts to discuss those particular.

00:59:00 You could do that. Sure. Right on.

00:59:26 – Brian Johnson

I am myself available. A community development director would be happy to do it. We could do it together. You know, if you find value in doing that, and then you can push it out and say, hey, this is specific about, you know, this mixed-use development rezoning application that council’s going to hear and we can talk through.

00:59:47 – Rico Figliolini

You know what, that’s great. And on something like that, maybe we can even do it as a live thing and take questions from people. Okay. That’d be cool. We’ll work on that. So we’ll work on how we can, what that would look like. And I’ll get back to you. Appreciate you offering that. Cool. Everyone, thank you. You know, this was going to be a 30-minute podcast. It ends up being one hour. Sorry about keeping you like that, Brian.

01:00:15 – Brian Johnson

I was going to say, you and I, we always have the best intentions up front. But these are complicated but important things to discuss.

01:00:25 – Rico Figliolini

For sure. For sure. So thank you for more time than I asked for. Everyone, share this podcast. Rate us if you’re on Apple, IHeart, if you’re listening to this. Give us a rating on this podcast. Certainly share it to your friends, your HOA, whoever, you know, whoever you need to share this out to. Some good discussion here. And I think more to come for sure as we do every month. But thank you again and thank you to EV Remodeling, Inc. for being a sponsor, a corporate sponsor of our podcast and good supporter of our journalism. We appreciate that, Eli. So check them out at evremodelinginc.com and find out how they can help you remodel your home. Thanks again, Brian. Hang in there for a second. Thank you, everyone else. Appreciate it.

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Parks & Recreation

15 Can’t-Miss Events Happening at Georgia State Parks this Summer



A guide to family-friendly, low-cost, or free events happening at Georgia state parks within just a few hours of Peachtree Corners.
Cloudland Canyon State Park via gastateparks.org/CloudlandCanyon

Georgia is blessed with an abundance of top-notch state parks, each with its own unique draw. Nature enthusiasts can explore everything from lush forests to stunning waterfalls and serene rivers and lakes, making Georgia state parks ideal destinations for hiking, camping and exploring the natural world.

In the spirit of spending summer outside, we’ve put together a guide to family-friendly, low-cost, or free events happening at Georgia state parks within just a few hours of Peachtree Corners.

Explore caves, try kayaking or let out your inner astronomer. There is something for everyone on our list.

1. Guided Waterfall Hike
Tuesday, June 4 through Sunday, June 9
9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville, GA

Join a park naturalist on a 1.5-mile round-trip hike to the waterfall on the Appalachian Approach trail. Along the way, you will learn local human history and natural history, discover flora and fauna, and come face-to-face with thundering Amicalola Falls. Register in Advance. $12 plus $5 parking. 706-344-1515.

2. Sitton’s Cave Adventures
Saturday, June 8
9:30 AM to 12:30 PM

Cloudland Canyon State Park – Rising Fawn, GA

These 2 to 2.5-hour-long Ranger-led programs will take you crawling in the mud, scrambling over rocks, encountering strange creatures and (possibly) wading through a subterranean stream as you explore the fascinating world underground. $45 per person plus $5 parking. 706-657-4050.

3. Campfire Shenanigans
Fridays, June 14 through Aug. 30
8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Red Top Mountain State Park – Acworth, GA

Spend time with park rangers for an evening of songs, skits and more. Meet at the campground by the picnic shelter beside Comfort Station 3. Enjoy a wonderful evening of delightful fun and s’mores. Some chairs are provided, but feel free to bring your own. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring bug spray. $5 parking. 770-975-4226.

4. Beginners Kayaking
Friday, June 14
3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs, GA

This intro to kayaking course is limited to a small number of students at a time. The course starts with the absolute basics and works its way up from there. Ages 10 and over. All minors must be accompanied by an adult. Bring water, sunglasses and a hat. Admission is $40 plus $5 parking. 770-732-5871.

5. From Slavery to Freedom in Middle Georgia
Sunday, June 16
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Jarrell Plantation Historic Site – Juliette, GA

How did the African community live during enslavement in Georgia up to the Civil War, and how did life change in the decades after June 19, 1865, when slavery ended in the United States? Join this walking tour to learn about the people who lived in middle Georgia before the war and stayed after to seek a new beginning. Reservations required. $4.50 to $7.00 fees. 478-986-5172.

6. Reptile Reception: Come Meet the Snakes
Sunday, June 16
2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sweetwater Creek State Park – Lithia Springs, GA

Meet the Corn Snake and Western Hognose, who will be serving the public as ambassador animals. This hands-on learning opportunity explores the difference between native and non-native species, arboreal traits and fossorial traits and everything else there is to know about our hognose and corn snake. $5 parking. 770-732-5871.

7. Junior Ranger Camp
Monday, June 17 through Friday, June 21
Every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls, GA

This camp is for kids ages 5 to 8 years of age. Campers will learn about nature and participate in outdoor activities. Send your child with lunch and a water bottle. Snacks will be provided. Meet at the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center. Please call and sign up in advance as space is limited. $250 plus $5 parking. 706-754-7981.

8. Birds of Prey
Saturday, July 6
1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville, GA

Join Blue Ridge Raptors to meet several amazing Birds of Prey up close and learn how to help wild raptors! Come early to chat with raptor specialists. Programs are held in our Visitor Center’s Arch Room. $5 parking. 706-344-1515.

9. Tales of Scales Junior Ranger Camp
Monday, July 8 to Friday, July 12
Every day, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen, GA

This camp is for ages 8 – 11. This camp is a collaboration with Smithgall Woods State Park, Hardman Farm State Historic Site & Anna Ruby Falls Recreation Area. Campers will spend one day at Anna Ruby Falls, two days at Smithgall Woods and two days at Hardman Farm. Children will need appropriate outdoor clothing, closed-toe shoes and their own lunch. $150 fee. 706-878-3087.

10. Iconic Trees of Amicalola Falls
Saturday, Jul 13
11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville, GA

Join volunteer naturalists to learn how to use a tree ID guidebook and scientific sketches to identify amazing trees at Amicalola Falls. This walk will take place at the Lodge Loop Trail, which overlooks the mountain range that surrounds the Lodge. Meet in the lodge lobby. $5 parking. 706-344-1515.

11. Harvest Festival
Saturday, July 20
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hardman Farm Historic Site – Sautee Nacoochee, GA

Governor Hardman grew several acres of corn to feed his livestock. The UGA White County Extension and Hardman Farm have grown a field of pesticide free corn. Harvest your own corn and enjoy music, participate in a sweet-corn taste test, play old-fashioned games, pet farm animals and more. $8 tickets. Children 5 and under are free. 706-878-1077.

12. Full Moon Hike
Saturday, July 20
9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Tallulah Gorge State Park – Tallulah Falls, GA

Hike to the suspension bridge and watch the moon rise above the gorge. Meet at the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center. Please call and sign up in advance, as space is limited. Plan to pay with cash as the gift shop will be closed at this time. $10 per person plus $5 parking. 706-754-7981.

13. Fundamentals of Plant Identification
Saturday, July 27
2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge – Dawsonville, GA

Explore the Biodiversity of Amicalola Falls with a short introduction to the iNaturalist forestry Identification app, followed by a walk around our visitor center to identify surrounding flora/fauna. This virtual app allows for quick identification and education on native flora and fauna that can be found in the park. $5 parking. 706-344-1515.

14. Sunflowers & Selfies
Saturday, Aug. 3
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen, GA

A much-awaited annual event, Sunflowers & Selfies, promises to deliver on a family-fun day of hayrides, games, photo ops, a native plant sale and a blooming field of sunflowers. Learn about the park from knowledgeable guides as you enjoy the beauty of Smithgall on a hayride or at your own pace. $5 admission plus $5 parking. 706-878-3087.

15. Perseid Shooting Star Party 2024
Saturday, Aug. 10 to Sunday, Aug. 11
9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Hard Labor Creek State Park – Rutledge, GA

View the best meteor shower of the year. Come to the beach to enjoy astronomer talks, music, concessions and meteor viewing. A limited number of telescopes are available to view the night sky at no charge. Flashlight use must be kept to a minimum. Red lights are preferred. Tickets are available to purchase ahead of time after July 10, or they are $3 per person, cash only at the door. Kids five and under are free. $5 parking. 706-557-3001.

Learn more about Georgia state parks at gastateparks.org.

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Parks & Recreation

April/May Events Going on at Gwinnett County Parks



Explore Gwinnett County Parks for family fun: toddler development, Earth Day crafts, kids' nights, and arts. Free/affordable events for all.
Photo via freepik

Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation

Creative Development / Creative Development Bilingual
English: Fridays, April 12, 26 and May 10, 24.
Bilingual: Saturdays, April 13, 27 and May 11, 25.
10:30-11:15 a.m.
One Stop Norcross
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross
Admission: free

Help your toddler develop motor and sensory skills in a fun and supporting learning environment. Parent participation is required.

Mommy and Me Rock’n Spring
Saturday, April 13. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Lucky Shoals Park
4651 Britt Rd., Norcross
Admission: $4

It’s an Earth Day celebration! Ages 2 to 5 will make a pet rock and enjoy activities and refreshments.

Kids Night: Cool Escape
Fridays, April 19 and May 17. 5:30-9 p.m.
One Stop Norcross
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross
Admission: $12 per Gwinnett resident; $24 per non-resident

Kids, ages 7-12, enjoy a dinner and fun activities with friends. There’ll be games, crafts and more.

Clay Creations
Friday, May 10. 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Pinckneyville Park
4758 South Old Peachtree Rd., Norcross
Admission: $12 per Gwinnett resident; $32 per non-resident

Relax and create at Pinckneyville Park’s Pottery studio. Participants will learn the basics of hand building with clay and make their own works of art. Light refreshments will be served.

Special Hearts Arts & Craft Day
Wednesday, May 15. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Lucky Shoals Park
4651 Britt Rd., Norcross
Admission: $6; caregivers are free

This day of fun with music, arts and crafts is designed for individuals with disabilities, their families and their caregivers.

Connect & Tell Your Story
Monday, May 20. 1-3 p.m.
Norcross Senior Center
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross
Admission: free

Ages 50 and up will put pen to paper to tell their stories, from biography to fantasy or anything in between. Participants can use storytelling prompts or create their own. At the end, everyone is welcome to share their stories. Light refreshments are provided.

Want more event happening in and around Peachtree Corners?

Check out our recent article: 8 Theatrical Performances Coming to the Peachtree Corners Area.

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