The $1.3 million renovation project began in summer 2013 and is expected to be complete just in time for the beginning of Hobgood Baseball’s season March 1, said Bill Echols, Cherokee’s capital projects manager.
The renovations, paid for by the countywide parks bond, include new lighting and protective foul-ball netting for the ball fields, a concession stand makeover and a substantial amount of concrete work to replace the aging surface already at the park off Bells Ferry Road.
Echols said recent cold snaps and heavy rains have slowed the project at times, but thanks to the contractor, Georgia Development Partners, and Commissioner Jason Nelms, who has worked extensively on the undertaking, it’s still on track and just under budget.
Echols said the construction company has found “masterful” ways around the setbacks, and Nelms has been one of the driving forces behind getting the project done in general.
“He was a very strong, very positive force in getting the work done and sort of encouraging us to get it done this year,” Echols said. “We’re all enthusiastic about it, but there has been no greater cheerleader for that project than (Nelms).”
For Nelms, improving safety at Hobgood Park has been a goal since even before he was elected in 2010.
“When I took office, I told the people in this post, this county that I was going to work on fixing our Hobgood Park baseball and softball fields up,” Nelms said. “Our citizens here, they have children that play sports, they have grandchildren that play sports and they want a safe place.”
Nelms added another of his goals in office will be accomplished in a few weeks when an overhaul of Towne Lake Parkway — which runs next to Hobgood Park — finishes, about $2 million under budget. The commissioner said he sees the park and road improvements as connected in that they each make Cherokee County better for residents and more attractive to those who might wish to relocate to the county — hopefully along with their business.
“For me, it’s all about the money we spend … and what’s our best return on the investment,” he said. “I don’t want people spending my money foolishly and I don’t want to spend theirs foolishly.”
In the case of Hobgood Park, Nelms said work was needed for safety’s sake, partly because of foul balls that have flown through the air and hit bystanders.
“Having two kids that play down there, it’s always concerned me from a safety standpoint,” he said. “There’s been a lot of people hit in the head.”
With the new netting and lights being installed, though, Nelms said things at the park will be improved greatly — not just for his kids, but for the many others who play there as well.
“This spring, this will impact 1,200 kids on a little over 100 teams,” he said. “I think it’s safer for everybody. I just love doing this.”