Ingleside neighborhood residents celebrated the start of renovations to Henry Burns Park on Wednesday.
The Ridge Avenue park will receive about $709,000 worth of improvements by the end of the year. The majority of funding comes from blight bond funds, while special purpose sales tax proceeds also are being used.
About 25 years ago a University of Georgia student designed some improvements to the park, but the city of Macon did not have the money for the project at the time, said Steve Wilson, a member of the Ingleside Neighborhood Association.
“Things have now changed,” he said Wednesday. “The local government has now recognized the importance of parks for neighborhoods and for the overall community.”
The improvements will include a resurfaced tennis court and putting in two new playgrounds, including one accessible to children with disabilities. 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 historic Boy Scout hut will also remain on site.
Commissioners Al Tillman, Mallory Jones and Gary Bechtel have so far contributed a combined $575,000 of their allotted blight funds for the Henry Burns Park project. Already, about $40,000 has been spent to tackle drainage issues.
Jones also plans to use some of the proceeds from the sale of the nearby Alexander IV Elementary School building to cover the remaining costs.
Bechtel said the park not only serves Ingleside, but other neighborhoods in the area.
“It is a valuable asset to mothers and families and fathers who want to get their children out into a passive park in an area that is safe and well-maintained,” he said. “The money we’re spending today hopefully will take this project and allow it to serve multiple, future generations as it has served so many previous generations.”