As reported in the Red & Black, on Monday, June 12 the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department hosted the last public review session for the new draft master plan for Bishop Park.
The remodeled park will include a new pool, gymnasium, administrative office, basketball courts, a quarter mile walking path, and bleachers.
This August Mayor Denson and the Commission is set to vote on the approximately $25 million master plan.
“I think the master plan is fantastic. Staff has put in a lot of time thinking of how we can get the most of that park because it’s landlocked,” said Kent Kilpatrick, interim director for Athens-Clarke County Park and Leisure Services.
Over the last few years, gymnastics has become one of the most demanding sports at Bishop. Most gymnastics programs offered by the park have a waiting list. According to Kilpatrick, the program has
“outgrown their space” and needs a larger facility to accommodate for its high demand.
As outlined in the master plan, the gymnastics program and the administrative building will move into a new 15,000-square-foot building.
The baseball, softball, and football fields will mostly remain the same, for exception of one of the softball fields.
“Our softball programs stay strong so we want to keep those fields, but we need to make one of those fields more multi-purpose because football and soccer continue to grow,” Kilpatrick said.
The new master plan will also accommodate all age groups from preschoolers to college students to seniors.
“A lot of young people, especially college students, play a lot of soccer to even ultimate frisbee out there,” Kilpatrick said. “We want to create a better space for them to be able to do that in that area of the park, in addition to adding a walking loop around the area.”
A popular sport among several seniors in Athens-Clarke County is pickleball. Due to its growing popularity, ACC Parks are also considering adding pickleball fields in the near future.
As for the estimated price tag of $25 million attached to the new remodeling of the park, Kilpatrick said that we also need to take into consideration the inflation that will happen between now and the time Bishop is completed. If inflation was not considered in the estimated price, the project could find itself short on funding.
“You’re also looking at a minimum of maybe 6 to 7 years before there’s funding available,” Kilpatrick said. “So you have to keep in mind inflation that will happen between then.”
For many commissioners, they approved how the construction and remodeling of the park will be split into four different phases. The first of which will be what facilities the park is in most demand for.
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