About 40 residents and officials from all over Cherokee County gathered at the park off Bells Ferry Road on Friday morning to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the substantial renovations aimed at improving safety and the park’s overall experience.
County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens spoke at the ceremony and thanked the voters in Cherokee for approving the $90 million parks bond. Roughly $1.3 million from the parks bond funded the renovations at Hobgood Park, which Ahrens said has long been a well-used facility.
“This gets so much use, this complex here. It’s a delight to be able to put the time, effort and funds into making it even better,” the chairman said of the baseball complex used by Hobgood Youth Baseball. “It’s so neat to come here on the weekends when this place is absolutely packed. Sometimes there’s a little parking problem, but that’s OK. It’s just a vibrant part of our community.”
The renovations 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 aging surfaces at the park. Construction began in summer 2013 by Georgia Development Partners.
Cherokee Recreation and Parks Director Bryan Reynolds told the crowd Hobgood Park was for years considered the county’s “crown jewel” of parks at a time before the parks bond when few such facilities existed in the county. And the updated baseball complex only serves to make Hobgood Park that much better, he said.
Commissioner Jason Nelms, who has been called a driving force behind the project, also expressed gratitude to the voters for their approval of the parks initiative.
“In 2008, the voters in Cherokee County voted for a $90 million park bond. We should thank them,” said Nelms, who was elected in 2010 after pledging to improve Hobgood Park. “This is their return on investment.”
Nelms also thanked Reynolds and Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood, who the park is named after, as he was ending his long tenure as Cherokee County’s sole commissioner in 1990.
“Mayor Hobgood, thank you for that vision in 1990,” Nelms said to Hobgood, who was also asked to speak. “This is your return on that investment in 1990.”
Hobgood said that when the county got the land for the park in the late ’80s he never dreamed it would expand as it has.
“This is a beautiful facility — no doubt about it,” he told the crowd. “Cherokee County and its citizens really have had historically a commitment to recreation.”
Hobgood said Cherokee County’s commitment to recreation isn’t only about “kids playing, or adults playing.”
“It’s about economic development,” he said. “People look at Cherokee County, they want a place where their family can live and enjoy their surroundings. And believe me, this is something they can enjoy here.”