Patriots Park Update
Scheduling Changes & Future Plans
The county would like to bring you an update in regards to Patriots Park along with the current and future plans.
Patriots Park is the most utilized park in Columbia County with over 50,000 visitors per month during spring & fall programming seasons. This year alone, Columbia County Parks & Recreation's spring youth sports has over 2,100 registered participants! In addition to the county's programs, private clubs and organizations also utilize this park. Patriots Park, Blanchard Woods, Riverside, and Blanchard Parks are all heavily scheduled with various spring sports activities.
When scheduling league games and field allocations, there are many factors to consider. Ideally, the Parks & Rec. staff tries to group the scheduling by age; however, the younger age groups (4-8) are the leagues with the largest amount of participants and bring the biggest crowds. This, factored in with the growth of tennis and volleyball, contribute to the traffic and parking problems that have been seen at Patriots Park especially during the first week of the spring season.
Scheduling Changes to Alleviate Congestion at Patriots Park
To help alleviate the parking and traffic issues at Patriots Park, staff thought it was necessary to make the following changes to the original schedule:
Moved one field of 7 and 8 year old baseball to Lonnie Morris Park (Appling) for games Monday – Thursday. This move relocated an average of 52 kids/families per night.
Moved U6 Soccer games from Monday night to Friday night, which is one our least busy nights in the park. This moved 128 kids/families from one of our busy nights.
Moved Thursday girls volleyball games to Saturday morning. This moved 142 kids/families from our busy Thursday nights to Saturday when the park isn’t as busy.
We moved several teams from our Co-Sponsored Bulls Soccer club from Patriots Park on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to free up more space.
New Projects in Motion to Accommodate Growing Needs of Youth Sports Programs
The county purchased 25 acres along William Few Parkway, adjacent to Patriots Park. Funded by $3.5 million from the 2016 G.O. Bond, plans are in motion to use the new land and expand the park. The focus of this project is access, connectivity, and parking. When completed, there will be three ways in and three ways out. All roads & parking lots will be connected, and of course, approximately 400 new parking spaces. There will also be new multi-purpose athletic fields, a walking track, and other amenities will be added. Plans are also in the works to tie the park into the new Euchee Creek Greenway being developed. New black vinyl fencing will be installed to replace the old damaged silver fence throughout the majority of the park as well. Several holes on the popular disc golf course will be relocated during this project.
Another 2016 GO Bond project, Lakeside Park, will also alleviate congestion during sports programming. This $3 million project will include multi-purpose athletic fields, walking track, tennis courts, and other amenities. The Patriots and Lakeside Park projects will begin late 2017.
Regionalized Approach to Youth Sports Registration
Youth registration numbers have now reached a point that allows us to improve the way we organize leagues. Currently staff is putting plans together for a regionalized approach to youth sports programming where parents will be able to register their children based upon the location they prefer. We will implement this new approach starting with baseball and softball this fall. Parents will select to sign up either for a league that practices and plays the majority of its games at Riverside Park, or select to sign up for a league that practices and plays the majority of its games at Patriots Park, Appling, and Harlem. When the new multi-purpose fields at Patriots Park and Lakeside Park open, the plan is to implement this concept for soccer as well. Parents will either sign up for a Lakeside/Blanchard Woods based league or a Patriots/Blanchard Woods based league.
The county is excited that the parks and recreation program is being utilized by the citizens, and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support of youth sports.
Information provided by John Luton, Community & Leisure Services Director, and Dennis Hodges, Parks & Recreation Manager