VALDOSTA -- Barber Park is getting a facelift.

The park, once home to Barber Pool, will be getting a huge work over, with a picnic area, a small amphitheater, renovated basketball courts, a small scale water park and a walking trail.

"It's getting a total facelift," said Brockey Brock, director of the Valdosta Lowndes County Parks, Recreation and Community Affairs. "We are adding amenities to reflect on future needs."

The park, located off River Street, currently has basketball courts, a playground, restrooms, picnic pavilion and kitchen and nature trails. Everything currently there will be renovated.

Brockey said the picnic area will hold from 150-200 people and will play host to five family picnic shelters. It will also be able to be rented out. The amphitheater will hold from 200-300 people. Brock is hoping groups such as the Valdosta State University drama, arts and music departments will perform.

"It may even be a great tie-in for the Convention Center with all of the events they have," he said. "We want it to be a place to bring the community together."

The water park is going to be something unique to Valdosta. Like the fountains at Olympic Park in Atlanta, the Barber Park fountains shoot water out of the ground in different intervals for children to play in.

All of the renovations are possible because of $1 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 5 monies.

"Nobody likes taxes," Brock said. "But this is a tax that does so much for Valdosta and Lowndes County. Because of SPLOST, we are able to renovate our parks and provide beautiful places for people to enjoy."

Barber is the first park to be upgraded. Work began on the park four months ago, and Brock hopes construction will be completed by the end of the year, depending on the weather.

Brock also said Barber was the first because of the renovations that needed to be done, especially the outdated equipment, and the size of the park. Barber contains about 34 acres of land, and is the fourth largest park in the Parks and Recreation department.

The renovations are a collaboration between city officials and parks and recreation staff.

"We all got together and decided to make a park that brings the two F's together -- fitness and fellowship," Brock said. "We are also protecting the heritage of the land the environment. The key is to have a lot of green space, not just athletics. People will get a chance to get together and spend the day eating and having fun outdoors, just like the good old days, when families and friends would get together and spend the day in a park or outside."

But Barber is not the only park that will be renovated. Brock hopes that as money becomes available, all of the parks will get a new look -- each providing the community with something new and different. Scott Park, off Old Statenville Road, is the next to be renovated, and will get new lighting, and the current pavilion, playground and game fields will get a new look, too.

"Each park will have its own features and will meet the needs of the community where it is," Brock said. "Scott Park will have public hearings to get the citizens input, and I hope we can start working on it by next year."

Brock said as parks and recreation conducts these renovations, the additional costs will be minimal to taxpayers, depending on what each park requires.

"We don't have to hire new people, because we have them," he said. "But citizens can help up keep the cost low by keeping the parks clean. It is the citizens' parks, and I hope the new features will make the people take ownership of the parks. They have the eyes, ears and hands to help us."

Barber Park's design came from IPG Inc. Architects and Planners and Standard Contractors is doing the construction.

"It will be great, and the citizens will feel the renovations are worth every penny spent," Brock said.

To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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