City discusses improvements to local parks

Published 1:26 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2016

LaGRANGE – With all the new improvements currently proposed in LaGrange, ranging from walking trails to improved landscaping, city officials were excited to hear about improvements that are being made to already existing parks.

Troup County Parks and Recreation Director Cajen Rhodes addressed LaGrange City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday to go over some of the changes and improvements currently underway at local parks.

“My goal when I came in was, let’s turn the lights on, make it look like somebody is home, make it look like somebody is paying attention,” said Rhodes. “So, we’ve started at some of our neighborhood parks. We’ve done little things.”

Those little things have included pressure washing basketball courts, painting goals, installing new nets, painting benches, sanitizing and mulching playground areas and general clean up in the parks.

“We are delighted that you are making this a priority because this is something as mayor – and I know the council as well – we’ve heard lots of residents talk about a need to spruce up and revitalize (the parks),” said Mayor Jim Thornton.

Rhodes became the new director for the Troup County Parks and Recreation in September after more than 10 years with the Peachtree City Parks and Recreation program, and he has already done major work in Troup County in these few short months to begin to revitalize local parks for the community.

“We left two baseball fields (at East Side Park),” said Rhodes. “Those will remain as fields. We had a major field over there that we removed everything, and basically what we’ve done is we’ve created a giant greenspace over there. … The public can go over there and have picnics. They can fly kites. They can throw (paper) airplanes around. They can do anything they want.”

The parks and recreation department plans to use the space for T-ball and flag football programs for part of the year. The department has also cleared space next to the bridge beside the basketball courts on Dick Street and hopes to be able to repair the bridge in the near future.  A community garden in conjunction with the housing authority was discussed.

Rhodes hopes to address all the parks in the future and is currently in the process of holding meetings with residents who live in areas near the parks and has identified clean, well-kept parks as a priority to residents.  He hopes for a clean consistent look to the parks in the future, and his staff is considering options to improve the appearance of local parks.

“We have public courts around the city that are just bare concrete, so when we go out and we pressure wash them, that is the best they are going to look,” said Rhodes. “We are entertaining the idea of going around and painting those courts (like County Met Park), which gives us consistency throughout the city on the front end with that. Though once you start painting things, you have to realize you’ll have an ongoing maintenance cost.”

The city council was excited about the improvements to the parks, and the affects that they hope the improvements will have on the surrounding community.

“It’s been great seeing the parks again with just the little bit of updating that’s gone on so far,” said Councilwoman Norma Tucker.

The city council is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Ridley Ave.