Amerson Water Works Park’s hours will be extended beginning March 1, but visitors also will be required to pay a small parking fee.
The park’s operators will charge $3 for parking to help offset the cost of paying for security and maintenance when the park’s hours expand to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It’s located just off North Pierce Avenue and features a playground, a picnic area, trails and access to the Ocmulgee River.
“We’ve had a lot of requests to have longer hours than the 1 to 5 p.m. that it’s currently open for on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Ashley Griffin, coordinator of Friends of the Trail, which oversees the park. “From the beginning, safety has been a priority since the opening of the park. We have a security officer there, and the feedback we’ve gotten is that people like that.”
Griffin said the parking fee will help cover the cost of having the security officer there for the extra hours. The fee will only apply to vehicles that drive into the park and won’t affect people who walk or bicycle into the park.
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Chris Sheridan, chairman of the trail’s executive committee, said the fee is consistent with other parks in Georgia.
“We’re planning on charging $3 for parking, but use of the park is free,” he said. “It goes along with what the state does for its parks, and it’s a little less than what (Lake) Tobesofkee charges.”
During the past couple of weeks, the park has averaged about 800 people each weekend, Griffin said, and the response has been extremely positive.
“People love (the park),” she said. “I don’t think people will mind paying the parking fee. ... We think it’s a fair price. We’ve gotten so much positive feedback (about the park).”
The fee will only affect Water Works Park and not any other section of the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail, Griffin said.
People who sign up for a family membership with Friends of the Trail at $80 per year will get a parking pass, she said.
Sheridan said the security at the park has been an important consideration since it opened.
“It’d be great if we had the money where we didn’t have to do it, but we need to recover the cost,” he said. “It’s nice knowing that there’s a Bibb County (sheriff’s deputy) checking the park. We’re getting good value for the money.”
Griffin said the park will be open certain Fridays for field trips from Macon-area schools and that the park also is open for events such as birthday parties. For more information about the park, call NewTown Macon at (478) 722-9909.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.