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'Power of the people' to result in improved park
McCall Park
County Manager Tim Callanan (from leftO, Commissioner Jamie DeLoach, Commissioner Phil Kieffer, Commissioner Reggie Loper, Commissioner Roger Burdette, Commission Chairman Wesley Corbitt, Commissioner Forrest Floyd, OmniTRAX Industrial Group analyst Scott Rogers, Effingham County Industrial Development Authority CEO Brandt Herndon and Effingham County Recreation Department participate in a groundbreaking ceremony at McCall Park on Friday. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
One of the biggest things about this is the power of the people. You stood up and it made a difference.
District 2 Commissioner Roger Burdette

 RINCON — A foiled sidewalk proposal led to something more suitable for residents of a southern section of Effingham County.

Effingham County commissioners broke ground Friday on a $400,000 renovation project at McCall Park at 5450 McCall Road. Plans include adding a multi-purpose field for soccer or lacrosse, a basketball court, a dog park and a walking trail, renovating the baseball field, bathrooms and pavilion, and paving the parking lot.

“These are exciting times for us,” Commission Chairman Wesley Corbitt said. “I think we are probably the 25th-fastest-growing county in the country — not in the state of Georgia, but in the country — so, even though this may seem like a little thing, it is the little things that make the big things great. Recognizing the importance of this area of our community and having something for them to enjoy in this area is important on this day and we celebrate that.”

No one celebrated more than District 2 Commissioner Roger Burdette, who represents residents in the area.

“I am excited about this project,” he said. “It has been a long time coming.”

Burdette expressed satisfaction in how the park improvement plan, funded mostly by SPLOST, came to be.

“The story of McCall Park is really a ‘power of the people’ story,” he said. “That’s why I’m so giddy about it. I love it.”

The project work born out of a McCall Road-widening project funded by OmniTRAX that was to include sidewalks. The proposed sidewalks drew fierce opposition, however.

“It went sour very fast, so we listened,” Burdette said.

The commission conducted door-to-door surveys to learn what residents in the area wanted. Later, OmniTRAX, which widened the road to help trucks get to the nearby Savannah Gateway Industrial Hub, agreed to redirect $75,000 it had planned to spend on sidewalks.

“One of the biggest things about this is the power of the people,” Burdette said. “You stood up and it made a difference.”

Effingham County Recreation Department Director Clarence Morgan said the park, initially operated by a youth athletic association, has a rich sports history. Formerly known as Westwood Park, it has served the Westwood Heights area for more than five decades.

“Westwood never had more than one or two teams in any age group over the years but they were faithful, dedicated people,” he said. “There were never any lights here so they played until dark or the played on Saturday. That’s how it was.”

The youth athletic association “faded out” in 1990, Morgan said, and the park became a target for vandals.

Morgan lauded commissioners for striving to improve all the county’s recreation facilities. Corbitt credited Burdette for pushing hardest for the enhancements at McCall Park. 

“Roger has not forgotten his district and he is constantly loving, caring and pushing for the quality of life in this area,” Corbitt said.

Burdette said none of the county’s other recreation facilities will be impacted by the expenditures at McCall Park.

“When we voted in the penny TSPLOST (in November 2020), that gave us more room and freed up money to do more things like this,” he said. “It didn’t take the place the place of anything. It just gave us more chips to move to be able to do more things like this for the people.”

McCall Park will remain closed during construction. For additional information, call 754-8061.