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All invited to park ceremony
Public groundbreaking scheduled for July 29

COVINGTON - A public groundbreaking ceremony at the future site of Denny Dobbs Park will take place at 11:30 a.m. July 29.

Recreation Commission Director Tommy Hailey asks that the community come out to support the project.

Local officials, including Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan and District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons, are expected to speak.

The park site is located at Richards Chapel Road and Ga. Highway 212, across from Oak Hill Elementary School.

"We've been waiting on this for 10 years," Hailey said of the park, which is expected to open in spring 2010.

The park was initially to be located across the street from its current location and funded through the special purpose local option sales tax. It was moved due to problems with topography and then delayed due to a shortfall in sales tax revenues.

The impact fee lawsuit and downturn in the economy delayed it further, Hailey said.

Commissioners recently approved a budget for the project of $1.38 million with a contingency of $100,000 for a total of $1.48 million.

Commissioners approved the purchase of playground equipment for three playgrounds - two for ages 2 to 5 and one for ages 5 to 12, for a total of $193,900. The package also includes equipment for a LifeTrail, a series of outdoor exercise/physical activity stations; NEOS, an electronic game in which players can race the clock to slap fast-moving blinking lights; and a wood-chip ground cover. The items are being supplied by Southern Playgrounds Inc. of Marietta.

The park will also include a community field and two outdoor basketball courts.

Commissioners agreed to wait until the project is near completion and decide then if there is enough money to purchase rubberized matting for the playgrounds, which will cost an additional $70,000.

The park is being funded through impact fees earmarked for recreation and greenspace. Those monies must be used for their designated purpose and cannot be used to supplement the county's general fund.

The park has been redesigned and condensed to cut costs.

Maintenance and operation for the park was estimated to top $31,000 per year, minus an estimated $8,000 in rental fee revenues, which would put the cost at more than $23,000. However, with the redesign, maintenance costs will likely be reduced by about 25 percent, Hailey said.