City holds groundbreaking for O.D. Baggett Park renovation

By Michael V. Hannigan/HCN

O.D. Baggett Park in Athens is about to get a major upgrade.

City leaders — including members of the Athens City Council, Parks Advisory Board, and Just Us Guys (JUGS) group — held a groundbreaking ceremony at the park Thursday afternoon to kick off a $160,000 renovation project.

“This is a project that’s been needed a long time,” said Mayor Monte Montgomery. “It shows that this council and this board and these committees are progressive. We’re about quality of life in Athens.”

Funding for the project comes via $85,000 approved by the City Council and a $75,000 Texas Parks and Wildlife Small Communities Grant.

Assistant City Manager Nasi Kombos said that much of the work will be done by the city parks department.

“We save cost having it done in-house,” he said, “and we get the benefit of using that as an in-kind contribution toward the grant (match).”

The City worked with the community, including members of JUGS, to determine how to proceed at the park.

“Sometimes you’ll see a tendency of cities of other governmental entities to unilaterally look at a situation and make improvements on what they feel is best,” said Kombos. “We never had that intention from the very beginning. We wanted to have the community decision-makers in this process and drive the design and drive what we’re going to do because they are the ones who are going to be using it.”

Work scheduled at the park includes:

– Filling in the existing pool and building a new 30 x 40 pavilion in that spot.

– Building a new playground area that has purposefully been designed in the shape of a black-eyed pea.

– Refurbishing basketball/tennis courts into basketball only with a new surface and backboards.

– Installing a sand volleyball court between the basketball court and baseball field.

– Building a new backstop for the baseball field with bricks donated by Meridian Brick.

– Improved lighting to the existing pavilion.

Kombos said work would start quickly and should be completed by the spring.

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