With tourism at an off-season lull, Lake Tobesofkee is getting a few more upgrades.
Crews closed the Claystone Park campground Sunday to begin replacing a 1970s vintage water system. Last week, county commissioners voted to tear down the existing, hazardous office and a maintenance shed at Claystone Park. A network of multipurpose trails at Arrowhead Park has been completed.
Doug Furney, director of the Lake Tobesofkee Recreation Area, said most of the winter work will be relatively low-key because no funding has been set aside for bigger projects.
The relatively few campers who otherwise would go to Claystone Park will be directed instead to the rebuilt campsites at Arrowhead Park while the water system is being replaced.
“This is the best time to do it,” Furney said. “December and January are our two slowest months.”
The resulting work should make Claystone’s camping area more attractive and safer, officials said. The above-ground pipes were a tripping hazard and often froze in the winter, and broken shut-off valves meant the entire water system in the whole park had to be turned off to make any repairs.
County commissioners were more focused on the park’s main office at Claystone Park, which was built around a 1970s trailer. Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson worried aloud that the floor might fall in, and County Attorney Virgil Adams said the county can’t keep sending employees to a known hazardous work site. Furney said he hopes to borrow a newer trailer through Sheriff Jerry Modena to use as temporary office space.
“The trailer will be the office for the immediate future,” he said.
County officials have often talked about massive improvements at Lake Tobesofkee, including a water park and conference center with a hotel, but haven’t set aside money for even smaller improvements, such as pavilions. No money from a special purpose local option sales tax was set aside for Lake Tobesofkee, though about $40 million is allocated to other recreation projects.
The last fiscal year was the lake’s best ever, with about 93,000 paid admissions.
Separately, a seven-mile network of multipurpose trails, built with a mix of volunteer and contracted labor, has opened at Arrowhead Park. The trails go through most of the park, but signs haven’t been put up. The work was spearheaded by a partnership between the county and the Ocmulgee Mountain Bike Association.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.