A new 187-acre park to be built by the city of Richmond Hill behind the Sterling Creek Plantation subdivision off Harris Trail could have a groundbreaking as early as mid-September.
A steering committee charged with designing the park held its initial meeting Monday to discuss the first phase of what will be considered a “passive park” that eventually will include running, mountain biking and walking trails, primitive camping and fishing. It is termed a passive park because it will not include facilities for organized team sports such as baseball, softball or soccer.
Groundbreaking might be held Sept. 15 in conjunction with the Wetlands Adventure Relay being hosted on the property by the Richmond Hill High School cross country program.
The committee decided that phase 1 of the project will include the construction of a parking lot, restrooms and a fishing dock at a small lake that is considered the centerpiece of the property. Running and biking enthusiasts are mapping out locations for trails and determining the materials needed to construct them. Swimming will not be allowed in the lake unless it is part of an organized event, such as a triathlon, and participants would be required to sign liability waivers.
The committee hopes to finish that phase by early 2017.
City Councilman Russ Carpenter said the city will also have to start considering names for the park.
“So far I’ve been referring to it as ‘Sterling Creek Park’ because of the location, but council will have to come up with an official name,” he said.
Carpenter said he would also like to pursue a community garden where people could rent plots — perhaps 20 feet by 20 feet — to grow their own produce.
The city purchased the land five years ago from a bank for $700,000.
“There was some interest from a developer who wanted to put homes in there, but that would have led to some real access problems,” Carpenter said. “It would be a great location for a park because J.F. Gregory is pretty much maxed out and is more of an event venue than a recreation site.”
The steering committee is scheduled to meet again at 10 a.m. July 25 at City Hall.