Despite a number of Timberlane Circle and Pineview Street residents voicing outright opposition to Hinesville’s Bryant Commons park project, the project will move forward, city officials said. Hinesville city council members listened to residents’ concerns over excessive noise, increased traffic and security during a public forum Thursday at City Hall.
“We don’t want the traffic on Timberlane Circle,” resident Bill Mason said. “All this is going to generate is a parking disaster.”
The city plans to develop Bryant Commons as a community park with an outdoor amphitheater, a 15-acre man-made lake, walking trails, a pavilion, picnic areas, a play structure and renovations to existing buildings. Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards has said the estimated $8 million project will be paid for with a combination of SPLOST funds and a OneGeorgia grant. Hinesville also received a $4.6 million loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority to improve Bryant Commons’ pond and canal.
Hinesville-based engineering firm P.C. Simonton and Associates presented an overview of the Bryant Commons project.
Mason also asked what type of security the city would implement to ensure “riff raff” such as drug dealers or burglars are kept out of the neighborhood surrounding Bryant Commons. City officials replied fencing could be installed along the property line.
“We don’t want that (criminal activity) in our neighborhood,” he said. “This just cannot happen.”
Residents commented fences and gates are not cure-alls to keeping determined trespassers out.
“That gate was locked down during LibertyFest,” resident Rand Walsh said, referring to an authorized entrance to Bryant Commons, used during a summer event sponsored by the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce. The gate did not deter people from sneaking into the festival without paying, and some festival-goers parked in the neighborhood, Walsh said.
Project Manager Marcus Sack, a design engineer with P.C. Simonton and Associates, suggested greater efforts at publicizing shuttle service and authorized parking for events would cut down on gate crashing.
The council also said an access service road is on the park’s site plans, to allow for emergency vehicles. The proposed service road would be gated and locked “24/7,” they said.
The city’s contracted engineers changed the planned location of the amphitheater, placing it on the park’s north end to reduce impact from potential noise on nearby residents. The new location would place the amphitheater 800-1,000 feet from nearby homeowners’ property lines. The engineering firm also presented its noise study.
The study showed routine background sounds measured 40-45 decibels throughout the day and spikes were around 60 decibels with the amphitheater at the park’s north site, Sack said.
Some residents dismissed the engineers’ noise study, saying noise levels from the amphitheater would be perceived by people at higher levels and the noise will carry across the water of the park’s planned lake and existing pond.
“The sound was so clear you could hear them (LibertyFest entertainers) talking to each other on the stage (from my yard),” resident Perry Neely said. He also told council members trash from future events at Bryant Commons would need to be addressed. Neely said he wasn’t enthusiastic about the project, but accepted the inevitable.
Resident Charles Bell is against the proposed amphitheater, saying it is a waste of money.
“What’s the purpose of it? What’s the benefit of it?” Bell asked.
One resident approached the council and announced he was in favor of the project.
“I see it as a wonderful opportunity and an asset for our community,” resident Michael Valentine said. Valentine said he understands his neighbors’ concerns but added, “We don’t have a park like this (in Liberty County).”
Hinesville District 5 City Council Member Ken Shaw said the council understands residents’ concerns and will take their suggestions into consideration when planning the park. Bryant Commons is inside Shaw’s district.
“I hope we can have a nice park where people can go besides Savannah or Richmond Hill,” he said. “I hope ya’ll just give us a chance. We’re trying to do the right thing.”
“The intent is to improve the quality of life here in Hinesville,” said Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier. “With change there comes some heartburn, some difficulty.”