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DALTON, Ga. -- Businesses looking to relocate want amenities such as city parks, so Dalton officials are trying to make sure the so-called Carpet Capital of the World has plenty.

Based on a master plan designed in 2006, city officials are spearheading several projects including a new community center on Fredrick Street, a soccer complex at James Brown Park, a new dog park and additional tennis courts at Lakeshore Park.

"Amenities and opportunities play a big part where people choose to relocate, raise a family," said Ronnie Nix, director of Dalton Parks and Recreation. "(The parks) are just a portion of things that make our community desirable."

Currently, the dog and the disc golf parks are the only projects completed. Construction for the community center is expected to begin Saturday, the tennis courts are expected to be completed by late June or early July and the soccer fields by the fall, Mr. Nix said.

Funds for the projects come from a combination of bonds, surplus dollars from the recreation department and from the city, he said.

Recreation needs have "changed dramatically over the last 30 years," Dalton Mayor David Pennington said.

ONGOING PROJECTS

* Dog Park at Lakeshore: completed.

* Disc golf park at Heritage Point: completed.

* Lakeshore Park: Adding four tennis courts, expected to be completed between June and July.

*James Brown Soccer Complex and resurfacing of Smith Industrial Boulevard fields: Expected to be completed by the fall.

* Skate Park at James Brown Park: Expected to be completed by mid-September.

* Community Center: Construction expected to begin Saturday, total project completed in about 15 months.

Source: Ronnie Nix, director of Dalton Parks and Recreation

ESTIMATED COST

* Dog park in Lakeshore Park: $10,000

* Renovation of Brookwood Park: $100,000

* Disc golf course in Heritage Point Park: $15,000

* Community center building: $4.3 million

* Outdoor facilities at the community center: $850,000

* James Brown soccer complex and resurfacing two fields at Smith Industrial Boulevard: $1.5 million

Source: Ronnie Nix, director of Dalton Parks and Recreation

"Kids today, young people have other things other than just softball or baseball," he said. "That's the reason for the disc golf park and, hopefully by mid-summer, we'll have the skate park."

Natividad Moreno, who lives a block from the community center, said the additional activities will be good for her daughters.

"Right now, they only go to the small park at Blue Ridge Elementary and play here at home," said the mother of three girls ages 5, 6 and 9.

She said the oldest one, Jacqueline, enjoys running, while the middle one, Angie, enjoys cycling and the smallest one, Ruby, likes the swings. But all of them love the water.

Instead of having a swimming pool that no one was using, the new community center will have a water playground, Mr. Nix said.

It also will include two gymnasiums with an upper-level walking track, an area for the county health department's Women, Infants and Children program, four multipurpose rooms, space for Dalton State College, the Arts Guild, library space and a fitness room.

With the addition of four tennis courts, which will bring the city's total to 20, and the two gyms, city officials hope to host tournaments to bring visitors to the area.

"We are trying to become the real capital, if you will, of Georgia for high school tournaments," Mr. Pennington said.

"The more people we can get to visit Dalton, the more we can add in terms of entertainment, restaurants, hotels, which will help all of our visitors as well as attracting the type of people we want to live in Dalton, too, because communities people like to visit they also like to live in," he said.

In the future, the city also will demolish the current building at James Brown Park and build a new one that will include an indoor pool, but "economic conditions coupled with the public's desires and priorities will dictate a lot of what happens," Mr. Nix said.

With the slumping economy in the region because of the decline in the carpet and floorcovering industries, now might not seem like the right time to start such projects, but Mr. Pennington said it is.

"We have reduced taxes on four separate occasions in the last two years and increased our city surplus at the same time, so we've become more competitive while also being much more cost efficient," he said.

"What we are trying to do is attract the type of people that start companies, businesses and create jobs," he added.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

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Article: Petition sparks talk of Dalton skate park

Article: Council approves plans for center

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