Even as the ceremonial tennis volleys were underway, eager pickleball players hit the Krebs Park courts Wednesday morning.
The first phase of the park, a joint venture between Liberty County and the City of Hinesville, held its grand opening Wednesday.
When both phases are completed, the park will be home to a dog park, a skate park, two multi-use fields, two playgrounds, a walking trail, along with the two basketball courts, tennis court and two pickleball courts that opened Wednesday.
“It’s just a pleasure to have these courts,” said Donna Lipscomb. “We were going to Richmond Hill to play outside and now we have to support Hinesville.”
The park, off Airport Road, also is a long-awaited facility for residents on the city’s westside, Council member Keith Jenkins said.
“We would have never gotten this done without the county commissioners,” he said.
Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette recalled Jenkins approaching the county commission and asking for their support.
“Keith Jenkins wished to cross the aisle and came to county commission seeking support for this project,” he said. “He sold it to us.”
Commissioner Connie Thrift, whose district covers western Liberty County, also backed having a park in that area.
“He did most of the legwork,” Commissioner Thrift said of Jenkins.
Thrift and others also said the project speaks to how well the county and city collaborate.
“We do all work together,” she said.
Said Mayor Allen Brown, “We’re proud to be part of the partnership for this project.”
Thrift said that as the city grows and more people move in, often from larger areas, they need amenities.
“The westside of Hinesville is growing,” Chairman Lovette said. “I see the benefit of having parks within walking distance. It’s a win-win for the community.”
Paul Krebs donated the land, approximately 4 acres, for the park. City Manager Kenneth Howard said the city initially looked at putting the park on the other side of Airport Road. “We didn’t imagine it would be at this location,” Howard said. “We anticipated opening the park on the other side of the street. We have had a mayor and council committed from day one to put this park on the ground.”
Simonton Engineering designed the park, and Sittle Construction built the first phase. Bent Pine Construction will build the second phase.
The city and the county broke ground for the park in January 2022. The park is being built through special purpose local option sales tax proceeds.
“The park shows the power of SPLOST,” Chairman Lovette said. “That penny makes a big difference. We appreciate you supporting SPLOST.”
Jenkins admitted not knowing much about pickleball, or its popularity. But he was convinced to relent to building pickleball courts.
“This is our jam,” said Catherine Brown. “This is what we do. We get our steps in and we have fun. We are going to enjoy these. We are going to put these to work.”