ALBANY — Plans for the redevelopment and recovery of the Radium Springs area will get a big boost this month with the acquisition of 14 tracts of state-owned land that are in line to be designated for use by Dougherty County.
The properties include land along both sides of the Flint River, but the jewel is some 84 acres connecting the former Radium Springs Golf Course, now owned by the county, with other county-owned land.
In all, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is looking to transfer through a use agreement some 357 acres to the county government.
The genesis of this transfer was River Care 2000, an initiative of former Gov. Zell Miller, County Attorney Spencer Lee said. The DNR’s board is scheduled to vote Jan. 26 on the agreement. The purpose of that initiative was to protect wildlife management areas, natural areas, greenways and other areas along the state’s rivers and streams.
A number of local entities have been involved in the Flint River Educational Park concept.
The 84-acre parcel includes the Spring Run bridge. In 2020 state lawmakers approved a $1.5 million grant for restoration of the bridge and trail project. The trailhead is located at the former golf course, which also was acquired through state grand funds.
The county has restored the ticket booth and gazebo at the site of the former Radium Springs Casino, which was razed after suffering extensive damage during floods in 2004 and 2008 and a fire. In the fall, a memorial to victims of a 2017 tornado was unveiled at the site.
Eventually the county is looking to extend a trail from downtown Albany to the Radium Springs area.
“Part of the plan included acquiring land on the Flint River, sensitive areas, for future use as recreational areas,” Lee said.
So far the state, county, and Albany State University have set aside $1.2 million for the first of the county’s trail projects linking downtown Albany to the university campus, and plans have been developed for the project, Lee said.
The city of Albany’s portion of the trail will include a west run planned to eventually reach Sasser along an old railroad bed, and also includes other sections linking downtown to city parks and recreation areas.
The county began acquiring properties in the Radium Springs area in the late 1990s, County Administrator Michael McCoy said. Those efforts have been bolstered by state assistance and funding.
“These are the missing pieces that will link the tracts the county already owns on both sides of the river,” McCoy said of the land involved in the use agreement. “All of the tracts are important to us, but of most importance is the Radium Springs tract that is about 85 acres. The county ownership of this parcel will aid us in the redevelopment and disaster recovery efforts that we are currently engaged in in the Radium Springs area.”
The plans also should be a boost to the economy in the area and county as a whole, he said.
“That area was heavily hit by the Jan. 22, 2017, tornado,” the county administrator noted. “To implement the plan is just phenomenal for us and has accelerated our recovery program.”
Radium Springs is one of the most searched-for terms for Dougherty County on the Google internet search engine, McCoy said. The garden and gazebo area are popular for weddings, events and just as a site for locals and out-of-towners to take photos.
“As we restore this section, the bridge, which is at the end of Spring Run, will enhance that area and hopefully contribute to more visits and the economic development of that area,” McCoy said. “It’s a very popular location or attraction.
“If you go out to the Radium Springs area, if you remember what it looked like on Jan. 22, 2017, and what it looks like now, it’s like night and day.”