LaGrange plans to name new park after late Mayor, Willie Edmondson

Published 11:00 am Friday, March 15, 2024

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The City of LaGrange has big plans for its next public park planned at Ridley Lake.

During the LaGrange City Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Mayor Pro-tem Quay Boddie unveiled plans to name the planned park at Ridley Lake in honor of the late Mayor Willie Edmondson.

The name for the park is not finalized but initial plans are to name it W.T. Edmondson Park at Ridley Lake. Councilmembers discussed potentially taking Ridley Lake out of the name but Assistant City Manager Bill Bulloch said that grant funding requests for the park had a historic component based on former LaGrange Mayor Frank Ridley.

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Bullock said the 44-acre park will be paid for, in part, through a $3 million DNR Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Grant. The award requires matching local funds, so it will be at least a $6 million project.

The park will be located near the corner of South Davis Road and Upper Big Springs Road and will keep much of the natural area, including the 15-acre lake. 

Plans for the park will also include the tenth section of The Thread, LaGrange’s multi-use trail system. The tenth section of The Thread will connect Shuford Fields to Nutwood Winery. Part of the section will run through the park and loop around the lake, Bulloch said.

Bulloch said the park will also be highly wheelchair accessible as identified as a need during their Master Parks Plan created with the help of Barge Design Group.

“One of the things we noticed from the comments from citizens was that we did not have anything that’s really geared toward people with disabilities. So this is going to have an inclusive focus where we can work on amenities for people with disabilities and be an inclusive park,” Bulloch said.

The biggest amenity in the park will be the lake, which will be stocked for fishing and have an ADA-inclusive kayak/canoe launch with an automated kayak rental kiosk. The kiosk will provide everything you need to get out onto the water including life jackets and paddles.

Bulloch said a rental company will be responsible for maintaining the kiosk. Personal boats are also welcome, just nothing motorized, he said. He noted they also do not plan to allow swimming.

Plans for the lake also call for five fishing piers, which will be accessible via wheelchair with paved pathways. 

“The kayak and canoe launch will be accessible as well. If you are in a chair, you can actually roll out to the dock and transition from the dock onto a platform that will allow you to go and get into a kayak or canoe, without the worry of it tipping over,” Bulloch said.

The pond will also be stocked so that people can fish from a boat or one of the piers.

“We had Southeast Pond management come out and do an assessment on the pond. We’ll go back and restock the pond to get optimal fish production going,” Bulloch said.

The park will also have the largest playground in LaGrange.

“There’s 22,000 square feet of playground space. So this will actually be the biggest playground in LaGrange that we have and it will be inclusive,” Bulloch said. “Some of it will be geared toward adults and adolescents with special needs and then we’ll have a regular playground section as well.”

Plans also call for game areas with ping pong tables, corn hole and bocce courts, as well as a wildlife education area and a yoga/tai chi area.

Bulloch noted that the plans are still in the conceptual phase, so they could change. He said they are getting ready to start the official design process and hopefully break ground soon.

The city is hoping to have the park completed by the end of 2025.