Plans for the new park include four dedicated baseball fields and two multipurpose rectangular fields lined for football and soccer. Other additions include a one-mile walking trail, a playground area and a new maintenance building.
The city of Milton purchased 14 acres for $1.287 million in 2013. Last month, the city council awarded Woodstock-based Astra Group a $9.5 million construction contract.
Milton City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said the expansion will allow for more diverse services. The local economic impact, he said, would be great.
“The return of having available park land in the community is huge,” he said. “It increases house values and it incentivizes people to be here.”
Milton city councilwoman Karen Thurman said the expansion raises the quality of life for all Milton residents.
“That’s where it has its greatest economic impact,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to spend the residents’ money on something that they will use.”
Milton city councilman Matt Kunz said the park isn’t just about athletics, as youths often learn pivotal life lessons through sports.
“This park area is another classroom for our kids,” he said. “We owe it to our future residents as well as those who are just wanting to appreciate the nature of this area.”
Milton Parks and Recreation Department Director Jim Cregge said parking has been inadequate for quite some time. As part of the expansion, he said two of the current baseball fields will be converted into parking areas and connected to the existing east lot.
The number of parking spots, he said, is expected to double.
“The number of parking is going to be around 470,” Cregge said. “Plus, there will be an unpaved section of parking for overflow … that can accommodate an additional 100, 110 cars.”
Cregge expects the expansion to be completed by August 2015. In the interim, Bell Memorial Park will be closed.
Registration numbers were not sufficient to justify a fall baseball league, he said. Recreation league play however, will still take place at various locations around north Fulton and Forsyth County this spring.
Cregge called the expansion “an exciting project” indicative of the city’s growth.
“The redevelopment of Bell Memorial Park is something this community has been wanting for the last two decades,” he said. “And now it’s finally coming true.”