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Rincon getting serious with recreation
rincon rec
Rincons Macomber Park is undergoing a massive expansion and an upgrade of its existing facilties. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

As the city of Rincon has made upgrades and improvements, some noticeable — such as the widening of Fort Howard Road — and some not so obvious — such as new water lines west of Highway 21, it’s also getting the ball rolling on its recreation facilities.

From the new Giles Park to the recently-purchased and refurbished Lions Club Building to the expansion of Macomber Park, the city is pouring resources into expanding its recreational offerings.

“We all saw an opportunity to improve our recreational facilities in every area of the city and to address every area of recreation,” said Mayor Ken Lee. “We need to make sure we are addressing all of the needs of all the citizens in all areas of the city, and that was an effort to do that. We’re all quite proud of that.”

The city acquired the Lions Club building, which is adjacent to Macomber Park, after the club no longer had a need for it.

“It was a great fit for us,” Lee said. “Some things develop because you just have the right opportunity.”

Rincon also purchased 20 acres along Highway 21 and that property could be used for large, community events, such as Oktoberfest.

“The city was well positioned to take advantage of that to make a logical and sensible purchase,” Lee said.

It may not take much work to get the property ready to host an event, perhaps grading and grassing, according to the mayor. The purchase also helped the city in another way — giving its public works department a new home from its overcrowded location at Highway 21 and 4th Street.

“We were able to get that building back there and it’s quite impressive and something we badly need,” Lee said. “This was a great opportunity for the building for public works and for the property and quite truthfully, as an investment.”

Macomber Park and the Lions Club Building
The city was putting together plans for Patriots Park when the Lions Club building became available. With its proximity to Macomber Park, it was an enticing deal for the city.

With the Lions Club building in the city’s inventory, the Rincon Recreation Department now has needed additional parking for Macomber Park. The city is adding four fields to Macomber, and that means needing more available parking. There wasn’t a lot to start with, either.

“So it really gave us a dual benefit,” Lee said. “We were so limited in what we could do to correct that. As we continue to grow, we hope that facility will reach a point to where we can host tournaments that will come from a large area.”

By adding four ball fields to Macomber, the city wants to host tournaments, bringing in teams and visitors to Rincon, something it is hard-pressed to do now.

“We’ll have a facility that will welcome that kind of event,” Lee said. “It’s mostly been our local recreation facility, but we feel we can develop that into a facility that will reach out beyond our community. We’re excited about the potential for that.”

There were 65 teams involved this year in Rincon’s recreation league. Adding four fields will allow the city to hold tournaments and conduct its regular league games as well.

“There’s definitely a huge calling for it,” said David Wooten, director of the Rincon Rec Department.

Statesboro has Mill Creek Regional Park to attract teams and tournaments, and Dublin has created Southern Pines Regional Park and Brunswick has the North Glynn Recreational Complex.

The plans call for four additional 200-foot fields with their own playground, pavilion and restrooms.

“It’s like a whole new complex on the same property,” Wooten said.

While the new fields are being created, the older fields at Macomber won’t be ignored. The bathrooms are scheduled to be renovated and new siding and roofing will be put on the pavilion. Playing surfaces on the older fields will be re-done, and the two biggest fields are in need of a better lighting system.

“It’s going to be a top-notch facility,” Wooten said. “Hopefully by spring 2014, there won’t be an old complex. There won’t be much of a dropoff.”

Adding the Lions Club building brings another asset, Lee said. It gives the city a larger meeting space to make available. The city has the Hinely Center, but it is small and limited, the mayor acknowledged.

“The Macomber Park Building is much larger and will accommodate a lot more people,” Lee said. “We’ve spent a lot of money to upgrade it. The Lions Club is easily able to accommodate 250 people or more. It will accommodate a large group, fully equipped with a large kitchen. We’re just glad we’re able to have a location for those kinds of things.”

Patriots Park
The city also still is batting around plans about Patriots Park’s future. Its proximity to the Effingham YMCA could open opportunities. The park is home to what the city calls a good tennis facility.

What the park could become is the home to soccer and football fields, and perhaps to walking and running trails, even an amphitheater.

“We have looked at what we envision that property to be and those opportunities are ever-changing,” Lee said.

There are plans for a pavilion and restrooms at Patriots Park, and the city still wants to see if it can have its own football league.

“We hope to be able to expand our recreational offerings,” Lee said. “We made a late stab at football. But we’ve not given up on that. We expect to make a good effort at that next year. If the community indicates they want that, we will do our best to establish that.”

The creation of Giles Park, off 9th Street, has been well received by residents on the west side of the city.

“I think Giles Park is just tremendous for that part of our community,” Lee said. “It’s been greatly utilized and greatly appreciated.”

What’s allowed the city to make this push to expand its recreation facilities and offerings is financial health, something of which Mayor Lee is particularly proud.

“The city is so financially grounded and sound that we have been in a position to be able to be aggressive and plan ahead,” he said. “I think we have done some wonderful things and I hope the citizens recognize that. As we continue to develop them, I feel we will have as good of recreation facilities and programs as you will find anywhere. That’s our ultimate goal.

“I hope the citizens will recognize what we’re trying to do,” he added. “I hope the citizens will be supportive of what we’re trying to implement."