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Athens officials break ground on first park south of U.S. 72

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — For about 15 years, community leaders have pushed for the city to build a public park south of U.S. 72.

On Wednesday, one of those leaders, David Malone, got a Halloween treat.

He saw the groundbreaking ceremony for the Jimmy Gill Park on Sanderfer Road at Hine Street. Gill is on the Athens City Council and represents the district where the park site is located.

Malone said there is no recreation south of U.S. 72 or west of Hine Street, and it is not convenient for the public to use ballfields at the local schools.

"If you're not in a league, you can't use those fields," he said. "There's no place to have a family reunion and play a game of softball."

The city is funding the park with a $250,000 community development grant and $25,000 from Gill's district money.

The park will include a handicap accessible playground, half-court basketball area and a multipurpose field for baseball, football and soccer.

"The mentally and physically disabled from the neighboring Birdie Thornton Center can use it, as well as Faith Christian Academy down the road or anyone in the public," Gill said.

Once completed, this will make the sixth park for the city.

Site work is under way and completing the park should take about four months, depending on the weather.

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