Stephens Co. Recreation Area Lease Agreement Finalized

Stephens County signs off on a lease agreement for the Stephens County Recreation Area.

County commissioners unanimously approved a lease agreement for the day use area at the Georgia-South Carolina state line on U.S. Highway 123 at their meeting on Tuesday.

Stephens County Administrator Phyllis Ayers said what the two sides have agreed to do is add the Stephens County Recreation Area to the existing lease agreement already in place for Holcomb Access and Bruce Creek, which the county already leases from the Corps and operates.

Ayers said that operations of the Stephens County Recreation Area will continue as they have been in recent months with the county taking over operations and maintenance.

“At this time, it will just operate as it is operating today,” said Ayers.  “We currently have our staff members that will be working with that (and they) will have a meeting very soon to see if there are any proposed changes that we want to make.”

They will also look later at if they want to make changes to how it is operated, said Ayers.

Because it is an add-on to an existing agreement, the lease between the county and Corps has a retroactive start date of November 1, 2010 and is good for a period of 25 years.

The county approached the Corps of Engineers about leasing the Stephens County Recreation Area late last year after the Corps announced it had planned to close the area, which is the site of the “Broken Bridges,” because of shortfalls in its budget.

Numerous residents approached Stephens County Commissioners last December about having the county take over the operations and maintenance of the park, citing its importance in the county’s history, and the county agreed to pursue that with the Corps.

The area has remained open while this lease agreement between the county and Corps was finalized.