Area parks build some new perks

Columbia County's parks are getting some much-needed improvements.

The most recent is the addition of 98 parking spaces at Patriots Park, the site of the county's popular soccer program, at a cost of $236,000. Workers finished realigning the new spaces last weekend, said Chip Mobley, a project manager for the county.

"It should take quite a bit of overflow parking," said Charlie Beale, Columbia County's recreation director.

At Blanchard Park, off Dewey Drive in Martinez, new lighting was added late last year to the park's fields, one of which was converted to a football field, Mr. Beale said.

By the end of April or the start of May, he said, an updated playground will be added.

"We had quite a bit of damage and vandalism to (the old playground equipment), so we had to take all of that out," he said.

New parks opening later this year include Blanchard Woods Park, off Blanchard Road, and the Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Park off Furys Ferry Road.

Mr. Beale said construction on the first phase of Blanchard Woods is to be finished in June. He said a cross country track should be available by late June and five soccer fields will open in September.

That will match the number at Patriots Park.

The opening of Blanchard Woods and the added parking spaces at Patriots Park should relieve much of the congestion at Patriots, Mr. Beale said.

The Reed Creek park, which will have a March 27 dedication, will offer a boardwalk through a wetlands area, special wetlands plant species and a center for school field trips and other learning opportunities.

Mr. Mobley said in October that 77 parking spaces were added to Wildwood Park in northern Columbia County at a cost of $97,000, to provide more paved parking for bass fishing tournament visitors.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

AREA ADDITIONS

Patriots Park: 98 parking spaces recently were added.

Blanchard Park in Martinez: New lighting and a new football field added last year. A new playground will be added by April or May.

Blanchard Woods Park: First phase of construction is set to be complete in July, and five soccer fields will open in September.

Reed Creek Wetlands Interpretive Park: Dedication is set for March 27. The park will offer a boardwalk, interpretive center and wetlands area.

Wildwood Park: 77 parking spaces were added in October; the master plan proceeds.