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New park getting finishing touches
City hopes to open Thomas Park in October
The new park features walking trails and a playground - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
Jorge Lopez wasn’t sure what was going on when the city started construction roughly a year ago across the street from his front door, but now that the project is taking shape, he and his young daughters are looking forward to playing at Hinesville's newest park.
"I've been told a lot," he said. "First it was supposed to be some kind of housing then it was supposed to be destroyed."
Formerly an old barrow pit, Hinesville's community development department transformed the depression into a pond and the centerpiece of the Irene B. Thomas Park, off Sharon and Elaine streets on E. G. Miles Parkway.
Lopez said he used to take his girls out to play in the front yard and ride their Big Wheel.
But with features like a playground, pavilion and walking trail, the park opens up more opportunities for his family to enjoy the outdoors.
"Before I'd just take the kids out, let them play in front of the house ... now they have a park, that's going to be great," Lopez said.
Expanding leisure options was just what Kenneth Howard, assistant city manager and community development department manager, said the city was going for when it decided to build the park.
"We basically decided to do this to provide some recreational activities in that part of the city, the western part of the city," Howard said.
He said all the major construction work is complete and the plan is
for an October open date to the public.
"The only other thing we lack at this point is the lighting and some minor work that needs to be done to the pavilion, as well as installing some of the benches and trash receptacles," Howard said.
For safety reasons, the park will be fenced in and will close at a certain time in the evenings.
"We still are working on the security issues," Howard said. "We're going to have to work out the logistics as to when we're open and when we should close it."
His department is working with the county commissioners and the Liberty County Recreation Department to arrange for LCRD to oversee the park once it is complete.
"The city of Hinesville sees the need for improved recreation and as a result has committed to fund this park (and) turn the operation over to the county," Howard said.
From the Briar Bay Park in Riceboro to Eve Park on the east coast, several parks are scattered around the county, but Howard said the Irene B. Thomas Park is a little different.
"But this particular park has an added feature with the pond," Howard said. "So this has a little extra."
As construction workers put on the finishing touches, Lopez and his daughters "really just can't wait for it to open."
"Every time we drive by, they say 'Oh, look a park. We want to go to the park'," he said.
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