Plans for District 2's first-ever park are moving briskly along with the Newton County Board of Commissioners' approval of conceptual designs for Denny Dobbs Park at their Tuesday night board meeting.
The park, which will be located on Ga. Highway 212 directly across from Oak Hill Elementary School, will be built over a period of three phases encompassing 53 acres.
Phase 1 of Denny Dobbs Park will cover 20 to 30 acres of the park according to Newton County Recreation Director Tommy Hailey.
Phase 1 will include two full-sized basketball courts, a Tot-lot with play equipment for young children, a large playground with play equipment for children ages five through 12, multi-use trails with concrete and asphalt sections, a 275-foot practice field with a backstop, four small pavilions, one large rental pavilion with restroom facilities, a plaza area with electrical hookup for events and an open lawn area for pickup games.
"We have been recreational activity starved for several years now," said District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons of his district, which has experienced an enormous population boom in the past decade. "We're just excited about it. We want the process to go through quickly and carefully and get the right builder to build out the park so we can enjoy the park quickly."
Simmons said he was grateful to Hailey and the Recreation Commission for their efforts to make sure plans for the park moved forward.
"Our plans are once we get started with it, to move forward as fast as we can," Hailey said, adding that he hoped Phase 1 would be completed no later than fall 2008.
According to a memo from Hailey to the BOC, the overall budget for Phase 1 of the park is $2 million with $1.7 million allotted for the cost of construction and $300,000 for architect fees.
A large portion of the funds for Denny Dobbs Park will come from impact fees collected in District 2. In September the BOC made the decision to release all collected impact fees from an escrow account where they had been held since the Newton County Home Builders Association filed a lawsuit against the board in December 2005, challenging the BOC's right to collect the fees.
That case will go before Newton County Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson Jr. on Monday.
As of Aug. 31, $1,521,432 had been collected in impact fees for parks and recreation use according to the county's impact fee financial report.
Hailey said the Newton County Recreation Commission was able to move forward with their plans for Denny Dobbs Park, which have been eight years in the making, only after the BOC decided to release the collected impact fees.
The preliminary master plan of the build out park also includes two tennis courts, two bocce courts, two horseshoe pits, another playground with play equipment for the "tween" age group, a 22.5 acre disc golf area, two sand volleyball courts and a quarter mile nature trail.
According to Hailey, the decision to name the park after former Georgia State Rep. Denny Dobbs, who represented Newton County for nearly 20 years, was made some seven years ago.
With the approval of the conceptual designs for Phase 1, the next step will be to select a contractor for the project. Hailey said the architectural firm contracted to design the park, Jb+a Park Design Studio, is preparing construction documents to be sent out to potential contractors.