LAFAYETTE, Ga.-The 40-year-old Lowell Greene Center, one of LaFayette's five recreation facilities, has been undergoing a major transformation over the last two years.
In a couple of months, it will emerge as a softball complex.
Once consisting of a gymnasium with an office area and a single field, the athletic facility now is equipped with four more softball fields, lights and bleachers. There is a new building for concessions, restrooms and maintenance equipment, and three more parking areas.
"Because of the growth that we've had with our [baseball and softball] youth leagues in the last 10 years, we've had the need" to upgrade, LaFayette Parks and Recreation Department Director Patti Scott said.
The cost to date for the project is just shy of $890,000, city officials said, with most of that coming from special purpose local option sales tax funds. When complete, the cost will be right at $1 million, double the original budget, officials said.
The city initially had planned to revamp the recreation facility using in-house labor. But officials contracted some of the work to speed up the process, and that drove up the cost, they said.
City Manager Johnnie Arnold said the increase in expenditures put a strain on the budget.
But on the upside, he said, it's an investment, and the city and local businesses will reap a return.
The ballfields will be used to host tournaments that will "bring a lot of tourism traffic," Arnold said. "We'll have people from all over Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama that'll be coming in here."
The target date for opening the softball complex is May, and the first pitch will be thrown during its baseball tournament for 5- and 6-year-olds, city officials said.
Timothy Bradfield covers Walker County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.