The Hinesville Downtown Development Authority has announced that Bryant Commons officially will be opened to the public in a grand-opening event scheduled for March 7.
The park — which has been open only to guests of the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association’s museum and parties who have reserved Bryant Commons for private events — will be open to the general public from sunup to sundown following the grand-opening event.
Two other major events have been scheduled to coincide with the park’s grand opening, which officials hope will attract regional visitors as well as local community members.
The seventh annual Small World Festival, as well as an international car show sponsored by the Coastal Empire Miata Club, will be held at Bryant Commons in celebration of the park’s official opening.
“After the Bryants passed away and the land was put into the trust — and then the agreement was made for the 100-year lease to create a park for public use — the dream was that this property would be Hinesville’s central park … a really great, serene place for people to come, and be, and enjoy and have entertainment,” HDDA Executive Director Michelle Ricketson said. “So that’s … the past vision of where the movement to sort of adapt this property came from.”
Bryant Commons is overseen by a joint-management board consisting of representatives from the HDDA, the city of Hinesville, the Bryant Foundation and the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association. The ITPA also operates its museum in the front half of the Bryant house, which sits just off Highway 84 near the front of the property.
According to Ricketson, a master plan for the 150-acre site includes amenities such as an amphitheater, a fishing pond, walking trails, a community-center pavilion, picnic areas and a veterans’ memorial, which is being spearheaded by the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee.
Although funding for realignment of the park’s main entrance had been allocated in the recently-failed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum, Ricketson said that the opening date should not be affected by SPLOST’s failure.
Phase 1 of the amphitheater was paid for by a grant from the OneGeorgia Authority, and included preparation of the seating area as well as the installation of a retaining wall, a sound pit and the actual stage.
Ricketson said that improvement priorities before the park’s grand opening include general cleanup and debris disposal, installation of new signage and renovations to the horse stables, which are under way.
Ricketson also said that she always is seeking input from community members regarding what they’d like to see in the so-called “passive park.”
“It’s really not meant to be rec-based, but entertaining and serene,” she said, noting that some locals have requested basketball courts and other fitness-related equipment to be considered for the site.
Bryant Commons is available to rent for both small family affairs and large-scale events, like the car show and Small World Festival.
Ricketson said that the HDDA was already considering an earlier date for the annual Small World Festival, since last year’s May date was “incredibly hot.” Aligning the festival with Bryant Commons’ March opening date seemed a logical solution.
“The last census identified 38 different ethnic groups in Liberty County, and so that’s a real opportunity to pull together this international, cultural festival, celebrating … how all these people from different parts of the planet live together, and work together and celebrate together,” she said.
It also seemed logical to combine the international car show with the day’s festivities, as Ricketson believes it will draw “diverse populations together.”
“Some of the car folks might really enjoy the food and the festival, and some of the festival folks may really enjoy the cars as well,” she said. “We think that will be a real fun marrying of events.”
Proceeds raised from the car show will go toward funding the veterans’ memorial planned for Bryant Commons.