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City closes new splash pad for repairs
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Just a few days after the grand opening of the newly renovated Bradwell Park, the city of Hinesville had to close the main feature — the splash pad.

During the July 27 Hinesville Downtown Development Authority meeting, Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard said the city engineer discovered that much of the rubberized non-skid coating had failed and was peeling away from the surface. He said they closed the pad for repairs as a safety precaution.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and will work diligently to get the Splash Pad back up and running as quickly as possible,” the city posted to its Facebook Page.

Christy DeLoach, executive assistant to the city manager, said they hope to have more information regarding the re-opening of the splash pad sometime this week.

Also during the HDDA meeting, Board Chair Marcus Sack asked the board to review the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Hinesville and the HDDA. The MOU covers what the city is expected to do and pay for on behalf of the HDDA as well as the obligations of the HDDA to manage several locations and activities within the downtown Hinesville triangle.

Sack suggested that more language regarding insurance coverage be added to a section of the agreement and asked that they table the matter until the next meeting, when it will be placed on the agenda as an action item.

Howard said the city is seeking to allocate $500,000 to upgrade the Bryant Commons amphitheater under the new Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) referendum. He said they want to build suitable seating instead of having visitors sit on the ground.

Howard also said the HDDA should move toward growing the annual Small World Festival, which had started at Bradwell Park but was moved to Bryant Commons Park as more people attended the event.

“That event is tailormade for Hinesville/Liberty County. Hinesville has a diverse community, almost a true melting pot, if you will,” Howard said. “And we had cultural events and activities that we showcased — Polynesian dancers, Jamaicans, the Ring Shouters — and it was beautiful, and it was huge.”

In addition to music, the festival offered various ethnic foods from around the world and taught children about various customs and cultures.

The city hasn’t hosted a Small World Festival the last two years due to the pandemic, but Howard said he thinks the city could allocate more resources to bring that event back to its former grandeur.

“And allow that to be one of the signature events for Hinesville,” he said. “I would like to put $20,000 to $25,000 just to get some headliners. I’d like to have groups come in and have a full day of entertainment at the Small World Festival.”

Howard said the HDDA could partner with the Liberty Chamber of Commerce and other agencies to make the event something for which people could remember Hinesville.

Sack mentioned that Hinesville is the 10th most diverse city in the state, with Howard adding that the state has 500 cities.

Howard then gave an update on the Azalea Street project. He said five lots remain, and the plan is to make those lots available to low-income families. He said they are also looking at affordable housing in other areas of the city.

HDDA Executive Director Michelle Ricketson then reviewed the proposed rental application for Bradwell Park. Howard explained that the area of the park available for rent is the stage and the area immediately adjacent to it. The splash pad will always be open to the public and is not available for rent. Applications are to be submitted to the HDDA, and certain events will require an assembly permit and possibly liability insurance. The HDDA is submitting the application to the city attorney for a final review.

The hours of operation for Bradwell Park are from dusk until dawn. The splash pad will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. during the summer, with plans to set a different schedule for fall and winter. The restroom will also close at 9 p.m.

Ricketson said a film crew is seeking to rent the historic Liberty jail on South Main for a film shoot. She recommended the board approve the request and use some of the funds to educate the community about the various historical city markers via video format. It was approved.

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