Cherokee Lake Park
One of Thomasville’s most loved public greenspaces is now reopened for the community’s enjoyment. After many months of work, the Cherokee Lake Park improvement project was completed and reopened in August 2018. An official ribbon cutting was held on September 8, 2018.
Why are Improvements Needed at Cherokee Lake Park?
Because of some future structural and possible safety issues with the park dam, the City of Thomasville would like to be proactive and address these concerns before they become an issue. The timing of the dam repair is ideal to address some other issues in the park, including repairing the boardwalk/walking trail, widening the path on the west side to connect to the Community Trail that will cross from Smith Avenue at Susie Way, cleaning up the north end of the lake, and improving fish habitats.
The City of Thomasville has also engaged an arborist to advise us on the tree population in the park; specifically, which trees are diseased and/or damaged and need to be removed. This information will be used as we look at how and where the trail can be improved so that the impact to healthy trees is minimized.
Because of the work involved, the lake will be drained and wildlife will be relocated. The walking paths will also be closed in portions of the park as well.
These improvement projects are planned to begin June 2017 and be completed by Spring 2018.
- August 2018 –
The Cherokee Lake Park Improvements Project is now close to completion, with only minor clean-up items remaining to be addressed by City of Thomasville staff in the coming weeks. These activities will not impact public enjoyment of the park, which is now fully open for public use. Although the project schedule fell behind slightly, it remained within budget and all overall project objectives have been met. One of the areas that has been transformed by this project is the earthen dam that borders Smith Avenue. In time, the Live Oaks lining Smith Avenue will provide shade while the Cypress trees will lend themselves to fish habitat. Based on public feedback, the new pedestrian dock on the east side was extended, which local fishing and park enthusiasts will surely enjoy. The concrete walking path also connects seamlessly to the new asphalt Thomasville Community Trail. Please note, however, that both the walking path and trail are intended for foot traffic only until the connecting Thomasville Community Trail portions are completed next year. Cherokee Lake’s public restroom facilities have also been updated by our Public Works Department. Public Works also updated Pavilion 1 and added new grills to all pavilions. Over the next several weeks, final clean-up will be performed around the lake before it is fully re-stocked with fish. The City of Thomasville appreciates the support and patience of our community throughout this project.
June 2018 –
As work continues for the Cherokee Lake Park Improvements project, we are happy to say that an additional portion of the walking trail is now open to the public with a total amount of ½ mile available for public use. This new portion extends from the rail trestle around the northern portion of the lake to the pedestrian bridge. It also includes opening back up the walkways that lead to the Lake Eagle neighborhood and the Wildwood apartment complex.
Additionally, there is a significant amount of activity now at the dam – particularly on the down-slope of the dam on the Smith Avenue side. One lane of Smith Avenue, closest to the dam, has been closed to accommodate this work and will stay closed or partial closed through, at least, the week of 16 June – primarily during work hours (8 am to 5 pm). As a reminder, please drive slowly through this construction area.
Thank you again for your patience with this project. We know everyone is looking forward to it being fully open for all to enjoy in the next four to eight weeks, barring weather or other emergencies.
March 2018 –
Construction has officially begun at Cherokee Lake Park. The project was started last summer and will include repairs to the spillway dam and a widened trail on the west side, among other repairs and enhancements. The project will also connect the park’s walking paths to the 15-mile Community Trail, which will ultimately connect all city parks and neighborhoods.
Portions of the park are currently closed to protect the public. Walking trails on the east side of the lake, including the picnic pavilions and playground area, remain open.
“While we understand that the construction is an inconvenience for park lovers, we are confident that the finished product will be worth the wait,” said Lauren Radford, Community Engagement and Outreach Director. “We ask for our community’s continued patience as we work to bring them a better greenspace for their enjoyment.”
Evidence of these improvements can already be seen at the lake as crews are diligently working to resurface all wooden docks and bridges. Repairs to the back slope of the dam along Smith Avenue will begin this week along with some tree and sidewalk removal around the lake. A temporary road from Reid Street into the park is being constructed to accommodate the heavy equipment necessary to dredge the lake and repair the dam.
“We are actively working with the contractor, the Thomasville Police Department, the Thomasville Housing Authority, and area residents to build awareness and promote safety along Reid Street during this time of increased construction traffic,” says Radford. “We ask our community to be mindful when traveling though this area because large equipment will access the park from the Reid Street entrance.”
The project has, unfortunately, fallen behind schedule due to unforeseen delays in permitting and material procurement. “We are disappointed that our timeline has been extended, as we know our community dearly loves Cherokee Park and is anxious to have full access returned,” said Radford. “The delays are, unfortunately, outside of our control. Therefore, construction is now scheduled to be completed this summer.”
Radford said that there is some good news to share regarding the project. “We’ve listened to the feedback from our community and will be improving the restroom facility at Cherokee Park and our other parks as well,” she said. “Knowing these facilities will be returned in a much better condition will, hopefully, make the wait a little more tolerable.”
Citizens can stay up-to-date with the project’s progress by visiting the Current Project section of Thomasville.org. For more information, contact Radford at 227-4015.
January 2018 –
January 31st update – While portions of the lake remain closed, we wanted to share some pictures of the improvements that are being completed now. In a week or so, you will begin to see a lot of more movement and progress as we begin work on the lake itself. We are also happy to announce that restroom renovations have been added to the scope of work and should be completed in April. The playground and pavilions remain open to the public.
Construction begins at Cherokee Lake Park on January 2, 2018 and should be completed in May 2018. Unfortunately, portions of the lake that are inside the construction zone will be unavailable for public access. To ensure public safety, the work area will be closed off to the public as indicated on the map pictured below. The areas outlined in red, including walkways, entry points and surrounding structures, will be closed during the construction phase of the project. This will specifically include the two entries from adjoining neighborhoods and two boardwalk entries.
Portions of the park will remain open during construction. Open areas will include the east side of the park, the pavilions and playground structures. The lake bed is also closed to public access.
- October 2017 – the City of Thomasville partnered with Hands on Thomas County volunteers to clean-up around the lake. Because of the draining of the lake, volunteers were able to remove debris from the lake bed, finding some interesting treasures! (click images to enlarge)
- August 2017 – Cherokee Lake has been draining and is now at about 70% capacity. Plans are in the works to organize a park clean-up, including portions of the lake bed, in conjunction with Hands on Thomas County Day later this Fall. Closed signs have been placed along the banks of Cherokee Lake. Please know that this refers to people walking into the lake bed areas. The lake is still open for fishing! The geese were relocated for their own safety with assistance from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. DNR has assured us that once the lake is refilled and construction ends, the natural tendencies of the geese will bring a new flock to the park that will make it their home. Click here for a video update.
Learn more about the Cherokee Lake Park project by participating in these community events:
Event: Community Walks
When: September 26 @ 5:30 pm and September 28 @ 7:30 am
Join City staff and project engineers to hear more about why the repairs are necessary and how we will return an improved park to our community!