DALTON, Ga. — Recreation is receiving renewed attention in Whitfield County with new sports fields and pavilions planned for construction.
“It is welcomed and long overdue,” said Sammy Silvers, president of the Westside Athletic Association in Whitfield County.
“It would be great to know you could get up on Saturday morning, go watch your kid play ball, walk up to the (picnic) pavilion, get you a bucket of chicken or a Domino’s pizza and spend time with the family,” he said.
Part of the county’s plans would clear 30 acres of timberland in Mr. Silvers’ neighborhood for construction of a new park.
Mr. Silvers said the 300 children who play baseball and softball in the community now use Westside Middle School, which doesn’t have outdoor bathrooms at its fields.
But before the new Westside project even begins, county crews are working on an expansion of Edwards Park on Cleveland Highway.
The Whitfield County Public Works department is adding fields for football, soccer and volleyball, as well as a two-mile walking trail and a horseshoe pit.
“There are a lot of subdivisions and schools in the area, and there is currently no place like that in Whitfield County that you can go walk up and down hills, around trees and see nature on a dedicated walking path,” said Whitfield County Public Works Director Doyle Dobson.
He said work at Edwards Park should be complete in three weeks.
All of the work is being done by county workers to save money, he said.
Whitfield County allocated $490,000 in its capital budget for work at Edwards Park, said County Administrator Robert McLeod.
Another $500,000 earmarked for new land acquisition was diverted to improve land already owned by the county near a former landfill in the Westside community, Mr. McLeod said. He said a consultant is studying the feasibility of using brownfield sites at the landfill for additional recreation programs.
“Our constituents have asked for a lot more in the area of parks, and this is a very high priority for our commissioners,” Mr. McLeod said. “We are going to have the Public Works Department spending part of the year developing park projects.”
This growth comes as Whitfield County develops its third recreation plan in 25 years, said Parks Director Roger Crossen. He said the county established a recreation department in 1982 after community members began building their own sports complexes.
Recreation projects began slowing with a budget crunch around 2001, and there hasn’t been any growth since then.
“We’re getting things done that’s been sitting for several years,” Mr. Crossen said. “We have new vision from the commissioners, and they are looking at completing these things.”