Beech Haven has been called "one of the most significant examples of a vernacular Arts and Crafts-style landscape in the southeastern United States." It is an exceptional natural and cultural enclave, previously owned and designed by the Rowland family, has the potential to become a premier destination for Athens residents and visitors. Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACC) currently owns 149 acres along the Middle Oconee River at Beech Haven. The property conserves seven of the Georgia Department of Natural Resource's "High Priority Habitats" as well as an extraordinary assemblage of Arts and Crafts style structures and landscapes. It is one of the last remaining greenspaces along the Atlanta Highway commercial corridor and is easily accessible to many residential neighborhoods. In addition, two of its most celebrated historical architectural achievements on the site - an entryway bridge to the core site and an elaborate Summer House that, when restored, has the potential for educational and family programming - were built by local African-American craftsmen. These cultural artifacts, along with plans to connect this site via walkway to Oglethorpe Elementary, lends this project valuable historical, cultural, and educational potential.
However, the county has not been able to open the area for public use due to a lack of appropriate development and management safeguards. The project will follow the Mayor and Commission approved project development process in developing the master plan and final design elements to be constructed as part of this project. This project is to include design and construction of park elements such as a multi-use paved bridge over the river, paved multi-use trails, restoration of the historic house, picnic pavilion, restrooms, wayfinding signage, hiking trails, hiking trail bridges, and numerous neighborhood access points