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County approves Sand Hill Park improvements
Commissioners hold off on 119 planning, design work
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Effingham County commissioners have approved $45,000 in improvements for Sand Hill Park and want to take a closer look at improvements for one of its oldest facilities.

Commissioners agreed to fund two projects from the short-term work program for Sand Hill, including a 30 by 30 equipment building and safety fencing.

“This is to stop foul balls from entering the concession and spectator areas,” said county community relations director Adam Kobek.

The equipment building is estimated to cost $37,000. It will have a roll-up door and a drive-up ramp and will house mowers, tractors and a Gator utility vehicle. Kobek said county staff believed these improvements were capital projects and qualified for special purpose local option sales tax funds.

They also revised the scope on fencing needed for soccer field parking at Sand Hill. Kobek said they could use bollards, chains or telephone poles to prevent cars from infringing on the soccer field.

Commissioners also tabled an agreement with CHA Sports for architecture and engineering services at the Highway 119 recreation complex improvements.

CHA Sports had a low bid of $79,500 to undertake a revised master plan for the Springfield site.

One of the initial steps, said Patrick Graham of CHA Sports, is a visioning process, to look at the facility and see what the staff has in mind. There also will be coordination with stakeholders, along with setting up project phases and schedules and preparing construction documents.

“Part of the scope of services is a revised master plan just for this site,” Kobek said.

But Commissioner Phil Kieffer asked if the firm could take a look at the county’s recreation facilities in total.

“I’m not trying to change gears on this project,” he said. “I don’t want to spend a dollar to save a dime. I don’t want to do something halfway.”

CHA Sports’ proposal said it would spend two weeks on visioning and programming, another two weeks on master plan revisions, a month on surveying and geotechnical reports, another month on preliminary design drawings and two weeks each on final design drawings and construction documents.

“We’re willing to be flexible,” Graham said. “We think we can bring to the table a lot of expertise.”

The estimated project cost is $1.755 million, including renovations to the gym. Other work is expected to include replacing lighting and electrical systems, remove and replace fencing, safety netting, scoreboards and field sod, improve the irrigation system and re-work the dugouts, bleacher covers and restrooms and concession areas.

The fields at 119 will be rebuilt where they currently are, and county recreation director Clarence Morgan said there have been efforts to acquire more land to expand the complex.

“This is the only option we have right now,” he said. “It we could get the other land, it would suffice for a while. We tried to do a land swap three or four years ago.”

Graham said the trend is toward larger complexes, and commission Chairman Wendall Kessler questioned if the facility would be big enough, after its redesign.

“My concern is it is still going to be inadequate,” he said. “I have concerns it is not a big enough piece of property. This county has a track record of spending money on facilities.”

Morgan said the existing land probably would not be enough for the park in 20 to 30 years and it is used nearly every single day.

Kessler said he envisioned a complex such as Mill Creek Regional Park in Bulloch County.

“I would love to see a facility like they have in Statesboro,” Kessler said.

Added Morgan: “I would too.”