A park in the Ingleside neighborhood could look radically different this summer.
The new master plan for Henry Burns Park calls for a redesigned recreational area. The County Commission is expected to vote this month on a $700,000 contract for the project.
Construction would likely begin in March and take about 120 days to complete if commissioners approve the bid, said Clay Murphey, who is helping oversee the project for the county.
The park, at the intersection of Ingleside and Ridge avenues, would undergo “wholesale changes,” Murphey said.
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“When it’s done, you won’t recognize it,” he said.
Those changes include a resurfaced tennis court and putting in two new playgrounds. Amenities such as new benches and lighting will be added, as well as “seat walls” that help combat erosion and provide a place to sit.
The driveway coming into the park will be widened to allow more than one vehicle to come through at a time. There will also be additional parking space and new signs.
“The problem over the years is that location has really suffered ... because of drainage,” Murphey said. “We’ll be able to address erosion and provide more flat surfaces. We’ll eliminate the eroded slopes.”
And one of the historic structures will remain on site. Last year an Eagle Scout started an online campaign to save the Boy Scout hut, and the latest redesign will keep it adjacent to the park, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.
Once the project is rolling, Henry Burns would become the latest Macon-Bibb recreation site overhauled in recent years. Much of that is courtesy of about $39 million in special purpose sales tax funds used to renovate sites such as Rosa Jackson Community Center, Memorial Park and the John Drew Smith Tennis Center.
After $5.5 million in renovations, the county’s signature park area — Amerson River Park — reopened in 2015. Two new additions to the Macon-Bibb’s recreational catalog are Filmore Thomas Park, which opened in November, and the $7.6 million south Bibb recreation center, where construction started in July.
Commissioners also have dedicated $43.5 million in new SPLOST proceeds for another round of recreation facility projects.
Commissioners Al Tillman, Mallory Jones and Gary Bechtel have thus far contributed a combined $575,000 of their allotted blight funds for the Henry Burns Park project. The project is also using some special purpose local option sales tax revenue for some of the improvements. Already, about $40,000 has been spent to tackle drainage issues.
Jones expects to use some of the proceeds of the sale of the nearby Alexander IV Elementary School building to cover the remaining costs for the park. A developer is seeking to turn the historic school into a senior housing site, which could tie well into the nearby Henry Burns Park project, Jones said.
With the draining problems, old playground equipment and other issues, the community park has needed improvements for years, said Jones.
The park is used by people from all walks of life who live in the area, and new senior housing could draw even more people.
“In my mind, one will enhance the other,” he said. “Grandparents can take their grandkids and walk down there. It’ll benefit the whole community, but especially the Ingleside and Vineville communities.”
Tillman said he’s thankful that Jones and Bechtel are using some of their blight funds to improve a park that’s in his district. The level of interest from people living in the neighborhood was one of the main reasons the project was attractive to Tillman.
“I just really wish a lot more folks in the community were engaged like they are,” he said.