AUSTELL — Commissioner Monique Sheffield and other officials unveiled a $1.1 million facelift to south Cobb’s Old Clarkdale Park over the weekend, improvements that include a new pavilion, playground, community garden and walking path.
The six-acre park was the site of an aging, disused baseball complex prior to the makeover, as well as a community center dating from the 1930s which was destroyed in a 2017 fire.
The baseball fields were moved up Austell-Powder Springs Road to Clarkdale Park long before the renovations.
“Walking around and seeing everything come back to me is quite the experience,” said Nathan Bach, a former resident of the area. “My journey never really brought me back to this place until now.”
Among those who turned out for the ribbon cutting were Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid and Austell Mayor Ollie Clemons.
“I’d like to congratulate Clarkdale on not giving up,” Clemons said. “There’s still more to come.”
The revitalization project of the park dates to 2014, when the renovation plans for the Clarkdale Community Center were taking shape, according to Michael Brantley, director of Cobb County Parks and Recreation.
During the early stages of construction, the center burned down, never to be completed. Following this, Brantley, along with members of the community and different county commissioners, decided to turn the focus to revitalization of the entire park, not just the community center.
Brantley and his team put the project into the 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) cycle, as well as adding money from the 2016 revenue above projections, which they are putting into the upcoming community center.
The park itself totaled around $1.1 million for improvements, with the cost of the new community center coming separately, according to Brantley and Barbara Savage, a county project manager. Brantley said the community center is expected to cost around $700,000.
They expect to finish construction of the center by 2023, with it being built on the location where the former one burned down.
The project originated under Cupid, with Sheffield taking over upon her election. She was one of many who spoke at the ribbon cutting, citing the success of the project being due to county and community collaboration.
“That’s exactly what we see here; the county and community coming together,” said Sheffield. “While we can identify the needs, the residents understand those needs greater than we do.”
The park is tucked back away from Austell-Powder Springs Road behind a residential neighborhood, but Sheffield said the county plans to install more permanent signage to direct visitors to its gates.
“The county will do our part so that our residents are made aware that it is back here off the main strip,” she said.