Collins Hill community celebrates weekend opening of new park

LAWRENCEVILLE - Five years ago, the horse farm on Old Peachtree Road was slated to be transformed to a neighborhood.

With more than 150 homes proposed on the 50 acres, neighbor Paula Hastings negotiated with the developer to cater the plans to the community. But at the same time, she lobbied commissioners to buy the land for a park.

This weekend, Hastings and her neighbors will celebrate, as Rock Springs Park officially opens.

"It's gorgeous," the Lawrenceville woman said of the park's trails through a total of 114 acres. "When you see that (natural landscape), you realize what a gift it was to the area."

Along the trail is a suspension bridge, built from above to protect the natural landscape. It is the first of those type of pedestrian bridges in Gwinnett, officials said.

The park is home to a football field, which opened last fall and provides relief to Collins Hill Park, which used to transform a baseball field so local kids could play another sport.

Billy Egan, president of the Collins Hill Youth Athletic Association, said Rock Springs allowed the association to host 650 kids playing football with another 400 or so cheerleaders, while 450 kids were able to play fall baseball at Collins Hill Park for the first time.

According to Phil Hoskins, Gwinnett's director of community services, the park also fulfilled a promise to the community for tennis courts, after the renovation of the Springbrook golf course meant the closing of local courts.

"Collins Hill Park has always been our most heavily used park," he said. "We were looking for land to complement it and take some of the pressure off it."

Although a football field opened last year and amenities have become available ever since, the park's ribbon cutting is designed to be a benefit for the Collins Hill Education Foundation.

A fun run/walk will begin at 9:15 with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Free activities throughout the day include tennis and lacrosse demonstrations, crafts and a visit from Chopper, the mascot of the Gwinnett Braves, who play just down the street.

"It's a nice opportunity with so many people staying home over the summer to make them aware of the amenities," Hastings said of the event, which will also include registration for the fall football season.

The park, which cost $6 million for design and construction, is located at 550 Rock Springs Road. Another entrance is located on Spriggs Road.