Bibb County commissioners want Lake Tobesofkee to have cabins and a conference center similar to those at Lake Blackshear in Crisp County -- plus a small water park.
Commissioners spoke favorably about parts of a Lake Tobesofkee master plan presented Tuesday, which would call for a 350-person conference center, a “family aquatic center” that could easily accommodate 2,000 people at a time, and enough cabins with beds for 200 people.
The most critical numbers missing from the presentation: cost estimates and a plan to fund the improvements.
Commission Chairman Sam Hart said the next step would be getting cost estimates. The bigger projects probably would be built through public-private partnerships and could be built over decades, he said.
“It’s market-driven, so it could happen in 20 years or it could happen in 10,” Hart said.
The county’s five Lake Tobesofkee parks -- Sandy Beach, Claystone, Arrowhead, Flint Rock and Duck Pond -- would be sprinkled with smaller improvements such as bathrooms and concession stands, according to the master plan. The lake is about 1,800 acres.
But Sandy Beach, which now has few significant amenities or even regular hours, would get the biggest improvements.
The master plan calls for an amphitheater with seats for 1,000 people that would be built along the center of Sandy Beach’s shore. The conference center would be built nearby and could be built in phases to accommodate increasing demand. Cabins would be spread among Sandy Beach, Claystone and Arrowhead to support the conference center.
“As a destination conference center, you need a place to stay,” Mark Campis of Atlanta-based HC Architecture told commissioners Tuesday.
The family aquatic center -- not big enough to be a regional water park -- could host as many as 3,000 to 3,200 people on the busiest days, said Matt Freeby of Water Technology Inc. The idea presented Tuesday included a 750-foot “lazy river” and a pair of water slides that drop about 25 feet. That facility would be built in Sandy Beach Park close to Mosely Dixon Road.
County Commissioner Joe Allen turned to the directors of the Knight Foundation and the Peyton Anderson Foundation to announce the county would need outside money.
“The bottom line is, we can’t do it alone. We’re going to need y’all’s help,” Allen said.
The presentation was part of a roughly $97,000 study. Kyle Theodore of Wood+Partners, a Hilton Head, S.C., firm, said she thinks the next step, which could include refinements of the plan and the first cost estimates, could be presented in about six weeks.
Theodore said people also have told the consultants that the county needs to improve maintenance at the facilities it already has, install better landscaping, upgrade picnic shelters and restrooms, improve public relations and marketing, and generally refresh their appearance.
Many of Lake Tobesofkee’s facilities are nearly 40 years old. Some have been upgraded or replaced since a tornado ripped through the area in spring 2008.