Here’s what’s happening at the new Warner Robins sports complex
A tractor mowing along a road about a month ago led to Mayor Randy Toms’ cellphone getting lit up.
It was the first sign of construction of the city’s long-awaited sports complex on a 65-acre tract on Houston Road. It had been discussed for so many years that some wondered if it would ever happen.
“A very minute amount of activity caused quite a few texts and calls,” Toms said as he stood at the property Wednesday, where excavation is now under way.
It’s part of a $20 million expansion of the city’s long-neglected recreation facilities. The city in recent months has already unveiled revamped parks, including a new gym. The sports complex will include four baseball fields, plus a building that will have a four indoor basketball courts, an indoor walking track, multi-use rooms and recreation department offices. It can also be set up for eight volleyball courts.
“I think we’ve made quite a statement, and this is the culmination of all statements right here,” Toms said.
In addition to providing recreational opportunities, the city is looking for the complex to give an economic boost to an area that needs it. Directly across the road is a vacant grocery store.
Although the complex is about a year from completion, Toms said the city has already gotten calls about holding sports tournaments at the complex. He said he has “heard through the grapevine” that a developer is interested in putting a hotel in the area.
“It’s going to create a different environment here in Warner Robins,” Toms said. “You have to believe it will bring businesses to parts of town that need some attention.”
The complex is in the district of Councilman Larry Curtis Jr., who also said it will be good for the area.
“It’s going to bring more traffic and more eyes to that area and hopefully deal with blight in that area,” he said. “It will bring a little more life back in that side of town.”
Another project still in discussion is improvements to Memorial Park across from Robins Air Force Base. Toms said a gymnasium is being considered there.
Completed projects unveiled this year include a gymnasium at Deloris Toliver Park, and major improvements to Tanner Park. Construction is underway on a new park, The Walk at Sandy Run, which is expected to open this summer.
At its May 6 meeting, the City Council rejected an agreement with the Houston County Board of Education to split costs on a $3.5 million tennis facility on school property. That agreement is still being discussed, but Toms said the city is considering adding tennis courts to Ted Wright Park.
The recreation surge was spurred by a study the city conducted years ago that found it was $80 million behind in development of recreation facilities that a city its size should have.
The city bought the tract to build the sports complex years ago but took no action to develop it. Councilman Mike Davis, who died Jan. 26, was a key force moving the project forward. For that reason, Toms said, the city is considering naming the baseball fields at the complex after Davis.
“To see something he worked so hard for come to fruition is just a real joy,” Toms said.