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Dellinger Park’s building improvements on pace for 2017 completion date

RANDY PARKER/ THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS
Efrain Milian installs fencing at one of the newly-renovated baseball/softball fields at Dellinger Park.
As the temperature continues to climb, Janeysha Tolbert is looking forward to routinely watching her 3-year-old daughter, Ja’Niyah, gleefully immerse herself in Dellinger Park’s amenities. Embracing the slides with boundless energy Thursday afternoon, Ja’Niyah and her cousin enjoyed various components of the play system designed for 2- to 5-year-olds.

“We come a lot actually when it’s not too cold now. It kind of felt good yesterday, so we took them [to Dellinger Park]. ... They rocked on the [animal equipment] out there and they played on the slides. They played together,” Tolbert said, adding as soon as they finished sliding, they ventured back for another turn. “They did a complete circle, because they know how to go up the side stairs, and they just go all the way through the little playhouse.

“... I like that [the city is] expanding out there and building on, so that means [there is] going to be more to do. So I can take her out there to do more.”

With Dellinger Park’s improvements in full swing, city officials are delighted with the venue’s ongoing renovations, describing it as a “very busy, but fun time.”

“I am pleased with [how] everything is going and how the improvements are already impacting our community,” said Greg Anderson, director of Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department.

“The three play systems were the very first improvements that directly impacted the community. Our play systems have always been well used, but the new systems have really brought out a lot of people, so I am very pleased with this.

“[The] large play system at Dellinger Park and [the] play system at [the Cartersville] Sports Complex is designed for ages 5 [to] 12, [while the] small play system at Dellinger Park is designed for ages 2 [to] 5. I guess the newness of the play systems [are] enticing the kids, but the largeness of [the] Dellinger Park play system is almost overwhelming. All the ramps, slides and different levels to play — what [a] fun time the kids are having.”

Opened in 1976, Dellinger Park marked its 40th anniversary last year. Located at 100 Pine Grove Road, the more than 100-acre venue was initially provided by the Dellinger family.

“Dellinger Park is the city’s largest developed park and gets the most use of any park in the city,” Cartersville City Manager Sam Grove said. “Improvements to the park were needed because of the need to both maintain and upgrade it. ... The improvements are proceeding as planned with minimal changes in schedule and cost when compared to initial plans. All projects in all parks funded via a general obligation bond issue should be completed by 2019-20.

“The overall cost, which includes improvements [at] Dellinger Park and at other parks, is $7.9 million. These improvements are funded by a voted property tax increase that received a 69 percent favorable vote from Cartersville voters. That level of support for a voted property tax increase dedicated to improvements is unheard of in other locations. The city’s parks, unlike other systems that the city owns and operates, are not self-supporting from revenue generated from them. The property tax method of funding was the option selected by the city for funding these improvements.”

Along with the Dellinger Park renovations, Grove said the bond issue will fund trail system improvements, the splash pad and restrooms at Aubrey Street Pool, a restroom expansion at the Senior Aquatic Center, restrooms at Hicks Park and the Cartersville Sports Complex’s concession restroom building.

At Dellinger Park, improvements are currently less than 50 percent finished. The project initially kicked off in May 2015 with Cartersville Public Works demolishing the designated existing buildings.

While numerous upgrades already have come to fruition, construction still is underway on various buildings — picnic shelter restrooms, concession stand, rear restrooms, tennis center and an administrative facility — by Womack, Lewis & Smith and should be finished by late summer. Future projects include outdoor lighting at the basketball and tennis courts, tennis court resurfacing and the replacement of picnic shelters.

“For the entire park renovation project list, I would say that our project list is about 30 percent complete,” Anderson said, referring to the Dellinger Park improvements. “As mentioned, the projects completed are the three play systems that were completed in fall 2016 and are being used. ... The other completed projects — field lighting [and] irrigation — though completed, won’t be noticed until games begin on these fields.

“I [have] received numerous compliments on the completed projects, especially the field lighting at Richard Bell Field and the large play system at Dellinger Park. ... It is exciting seeing the improvements for myself and the park staff, but listening [to] our park patrons and seeing how excited they are really makes this a very busy, but fun time in our parks.”

Calling one portion of the park “a war zone,” Anderson said patrons have been “very understanding” during this renovation period, which has impacted various amenities and programs at the venue.

“Dellinger Park buildings are being constructed now,” he said. “Other than right on the site — [if they planned to use a softball field or the playground while that specific area was under construction or renovation] or the lack of restrooms, the park patrons have been very accommodating and very excited about the improvements.

Now, the area around concession No. 1 is like a war zone, [with] the broken pavement and construction material, but the patrons can see the new buildings coming together and from what all are telling myself and staff, everyone likes what they see.

“... [There also are] no restrooms at [the] shelter area and football area. The walking trail at Dellinger Park — the stretch that crosses in front of [the] office — has been closed. Our park patrons are being impacted by the park projects, but all have been very understanding and all are excited for the improvements. The building improvements outside Dellinger Park should not impact the community at all, as the improvements will be done during the off-season of our programs. The Senior Aquatic Center improvements will impact our patrons to the pool, but we will do our best to minimize the impact.”

Echoing Anderson, Grove also extends thanks to area residents who continue to support the city park system’s renovation efforts.

“A huge thanks goes out to the citizens group that volunteered numerous hours to help identify the needs that should be met by these improvements and what they should look like,” Grove said. “Thanks is also due to the patrons of our parks who use these facilities daily and to their support and support of the voters at the polling place. Additionally, none of this takes place without the leadership and direction of the City Council who felt that these improvements were important enough to submit them to the voters for approval.

“The look and openness of the buildings, in particular, that are being built as part of this overall project achieve what the city set out to accomplish in making the improvements,” he said. “The open breezeways in the buildings and the use of stacked rock on the outside of the buildings make them appear natural and contemporary when compared to the buildings that they are replacing. They set a new and higher standard for buildings located in our city’s park system.

“Improvement to the ... city’s park and open space is a key component of building community and maintaining the health in any community. The improvements to our city’s parks give the community balance and give residents a place to relax and enjoy themselves without leaving Cartersville.”

For more information about Dellinger Park, visit www.cityofcartersville.org or call 770-387-5626.

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