A Message from Ben Wiley, Director
The city parks systems are alive and well. In 2016, it appeared that we had record participation in our parks. Parks are an obvious quality of life issue and a vital part of the community. In 2016, we took a step in a positive direction in renovating the parks. We added shade structures to Jimmy Gill Park, new picnic tables to Wellness Park, and upgraded All Kids Park, formerly Kids Dugout. We added a sidewalk on the North side of Big Spring Park along with park benches.
All of these improvements were done in an effort to maintain and increase quality of life and encourage free recreational interaction within our community. Fortunately, we have received very positive feedback for our efforts in our park system.
Along with the help of our city planner we will create a comprehensive master plan for our park system that includes landscape upgrades and discussion for opportunity of additional parks. Also,opportunities to add additional amenities to the parks such as: splash pads, a featured dog park, and a pickle ball court just to name a few.
Recreation is at an all-time high for the City of Athens. Our local league recreational program numbers are at a record high. Our weekend travel recreational programs are also at a record high. My thoughts are to continue that trend adding 4 new multi-use ball fields long with batting cages, concessions, press box, and shade structures.
With the help of the mayor and city council, I plan to move forward in building a new recreational center. These new features will increase participation in our local leagues during the week and also give us an opportunity to host more weekend travel recreation. The goal is to increase quality of life and have a positive economic
impact on our community.
Athens Parks & Recreation is excited to announce the addition of four new multi-use ball fields at the Sportsplex. The new ball fields will have dirt infields, allowing them to be used for baseball or softball.
The new facility will also include a concession / press box along with a hospitality room, restrooms, batting cages, and shade structures. They will primarily be used by our local league teams throughout the week. A variety of travel tournaments will be hosted on the weekends. The fields will be located just east of the South Pod fields and are expected to be ready for play by Spring 2018.
This $2.6 million project not only means growth for recreation but also growth for Athens. The extra facilities will allow Athens to host larger tournaments with more teams coming from outside Alabama.
In 2018, we are looking to host tournaments with as many as 50 teams; currently, our tournaments are averaging 20 teams with as many as half local. More visitors mean more revenue for Athens, and not just in recreation. Lodging and restaurants will get the biggest boost, but shopping centers and gas stations are sure to feel the impact as well.
Director—Cemetery, Parks & Recreation