It’s been years in the making, but the 150-acre home site of former state Sen. Glenn Bryant is now a city park. Community leaders gathered at the park’s amphitheater Saturday morning for a ribbon-cutting.
The ceremony also kicked off this year’s Small World Festival. Leaders later broke ground for a dog park at the site.
“It’s been a long, long path to get to where we are today,” Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas said before the ribbon cutting. “Today, we are officially opening Bryant Commons Park. It’s going to be open to the public from dawn to dusk every day. We want you to enjoy it. We want you to make use of this place. This is our public meeting place here in Hinesville.
“I want to thank all of our Small World Festival participants. We are an amazing city. We have people from all over the world here.”
Task Force Marne Commander Brig. Gen. James Blackburn said the 3rd Infantry Division praised the facilities and proximity of Bryant Commons Park for use by soldiers and their families, who are also part of this community.
County Commission Chairman Donald Lovett echoed the comments of Thomas and Blackburn. He said he had watched the property evolve from a family farm to a city park, adding the best is yet to come. Referring to the diversity of Liberty County, he said his staff at Liberty Regional Medical Center lab includes people with Hispanic backgrounds, people from India and at least one man from Kenya.
At Cisco’s Dog Park, named for one of the Bryants’ pets, leaders said it will include separate areas for large dogs and small dogs. The Rev. Dale Thornton, pastor of First United Methodist Church, asked God’s blessing on the facility and some pets at the ceremony.
Downtown Development Authority Director Michelle Ricketson said a professional dog trainer is consulting about obstacle course equipment. Water stations also need to be built, she said. She stressed that even though the dog park will be for public use, dog owners must follow keep their pets on leashes as all times.
Hollie Barnidge, HDDA’s Main Street Program coordinator and special events planner, summarize the litany of events Saturday to celebrate opening Bryant Commons.
“We’ve got an amazing line-up of multi-cultural dancers and a wide variety of entertainers,” Barnidge said. “We’ve got food vendors selling everything from barbecue to funnel cakes to fish sandwiches. We’ve got vendors selling honey and crafts like wood carvings, jewelry and all sorts of things. We hope to have a good crowd today. Our aim is to have 1,000. We’ll see if that happens.”
Ricketson confirmed on Monday that an estimated 1,500 attended.
“The weather was so fabulous,” Ricketson said. “We’ve had a rough ride before with the weather, but this weekend the weather couldn’t have been better… There were a lot of folks on stage for the Small World Festival. Although we didn’t have the Polynesian or German performers, we did have Spanish and Asian dancers, and we had zumba, which is a Latin dance-fitness program.”
Ricketson said the park will grow as the public uses and supports it. Even the dog park is a “pay-as-we-go” facility, she said. Anyone interested in making a donation to the park should contact the HDDA via its website, www.hinesvilledowntown.com.