Two days after the Upson County Board of Commissioners heard from citizens supporting the Flint River Outdoor Center (FROC), an agreement was worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. FROC owners Margie and Jim McDaniel and their attorney, Johnnie Caldwell, met last Thursday with Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston, Commissioner Steve Hudson, County Manager Jim Wheeless, and County Attorney Pascal English.
At issue was the ability of FROC to use their shuttle service to bus individuals and rental canoes to Sprewell Bluff, where they access the Flint River and float down to the center. FROC had an agreement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources when the state ran the park, and last year had a similar agreement with Upson County. But following a BOC vote in May to change the current park ordinance in regards to commercial activity, FROC received a letter from the county stating that they could no longer use Sprewell Bluff Park as a shuttle site.
The McDaniels and their supporters spoke during the public participation period of last Tuesday’s BOC meeting, pleading their case and stating that if they could not use Sprewell Bluff as a drop off point, they would go out of business. The board made no comment, but the Thursday meeting was arranged.
County Manager Jim Wheeless said Monday morning that once everyone sat down and started talking to each other, the issue was resolved.
“I think there was just some misunderstanding to start with, but we got it worked out and as far as I know, everything is back to normal now,” Wheeless said. “What they agreed on, with the number of times that they are going in and out with those four vans, is an annual fee of $650. There is no permit fee issued. That’s what they pay to park. I think that’s fair, because if I take a boat down there and have to stop and let somebody out, I pay the same fee, and as many times as they go, I think they are very pleased with it. As far as I know, the board is, too.”
Wheeless added that this could be the start of making the park a profitable area for the county.
“I’ve already got some calls from people who want to take a truck down there and sell pizzas all day on the weekends. That’s not a bad thing,” the county manager said. “The whole Sprewell Bluff is right now, I think, a diamond in the rough that they’ll keep developing if they can. Right now they’re trying to pay it as they go. That’s something that I think has a lot of potential. We already get a lot of tourism from it. Maybe somebody can capitalize and help us out a little bit more.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.