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Denny Dobbs Park construction to begin Wednesday
Park has been in planning for over 10 years
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After 10 years of waiting, District 2 residents will finally see the groundbreaking of Denny Dobbs Park at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The public is encouraged to attend; members of the Board of Commissioners, Recreation Commission and Sunbelt Builders President Steve Kapp will speak at the event. Chairman Kathy Morgan and the commissioners will be the ones breaking ground.

The groundbreaking will take place at the park’s future site — at the corner of Ga. Highway 212 and Richard Chapel Road, directly across from Oak Hill Elementary.

Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey said parking is available at Oak Hill and in the open field behind the pavilion at Fire Station 14. Hailey said Wednesday’s event is just a groundbreaking; a more elaborate dedication will take place once the park is completed in Spring 2010.

Sunbelt Vice President Mike McCrorey Jr. said an updated park diagram is still being completed and he didn’t know if it would be ready for the park’s groundbreaking.

The original plan for Phase 1 was to cover 20 to 30 acres and to 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 rest room facilities, a plaza area with electrical hookup for events and an open lawn area for pickup games. The original cost of construction was $1.7 million.

Sunbelt was hired as the park’s project manager to revise the park’s design to trim costs to $1.48 million; the amount of impact fees available and set aside specifically for recreation and greenspace. Hailey said the changes included centralizing most of the amenities to prevent the need for as many walkways and as much landscaping, eliminating the large and small pavilions and replacing with a couple of smaller single-table covered pavilions. He said the park will still have a baseball field, two basketball courts, multiple playgrounds and a life trail, with has different exercise areas and machines along its path.

Sunbelt President Steve Kapp said previously that County Architect Debbie Bell has also worked to incorporate less expensive native flora that will also require less maintenance.

McCrorey said a contractor for the park has been chosen, but Sunbelt is still in negotiation and no contract has been signed. To this point, only the playgrounds have been contracted out at a set price. Earlier this month, the county reached an agreement with Southern Playground to provide playground equipment for two 2-5-year-old playgrounds, one 5-12-year-old playground, the life trail and a NEOS electronic playsystem for a total of $193,990.

If the county has enough of its $100,000 of contingency money left over after construction, it will use recycled rubber instead of woodchips for the playgrounds surfacing. The rubber surface would have cost about $56,000 more than woodchips so it was temporarily cut out to preserve the contingency in case grading costs more than expected. Hailey said rubber surfacing lasts for about 10-15 years, whereas woodchips need to be replaced every 2 years, which leads to higher maintenance costs over the long-term.

All of the park’s features, like the playground, basketball courts and baseball field, were bid out separately and collectively to see which option would be cheapest. McCrorey said a combined bid was accepted for most of the features, but Sunbelt was still negotiating with the selected contractor to see which features should be included in the bid and which should be done separately. He said the contractor would be announced when the contract was signed.

McCrorey said some of smaller, miscellaneous features will be handled by another company.

Kapp said actual construction on phase one will start in two to three months and is expected to take six months to finish; the plan is for the park to be open by spring 2010.

The original master plan calls for three phases and the fully built-out park plan includes tennis courts, bocce courts, horseshoe pits, a 22.5 acre disc golf area, sand volleyball courts, additional playgrounds, more walking trails and more pavilions with rest room facilities.

Morgan said she was excited to see the park’s construction get underway.

"I’m thrilled that the park is being approved," she said. "We’ll approve the general contractor (at the next BOC meeting) when they have the final bid. I think we need a park like this in District 2 - in the western part, period. It’s been a long time waiting. I wish we could do more, but I’m excited to build a park within budget and with all of the facilities that were originally in the design, without cutting a lot of other projects."

The park is named after former Georgia State Rep. Denny Dobbs, who served Newton County for nearly 20 years, Hailey said previously.