Harbins, Rabbit Hill park expansions move forward

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Delayed park projects will bring football and baseball leagues soon, after commissioners approved construction at Harbins Park and Rabbit Hill Park.

But with tight budgets, commissioners are hoping a volunteer program endorsed Tuesday will help with maintenance.

Two years after a political move by Chairman Charles Bannister delayed the process, commissioners voted to move forward with a multi-purpose field at Harbins Park, which will provide a feeder program for Archer.

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said baseball and softball fields would follow in another contract in a few months.

"The community out there has bee fighting for it," Beaudreau said of the park work, which adds to the trails already open at the park in southeastern Gwinnett.

After a delay of a few months to ask questions, construction also moved forward on an expansion to Rabbit Hill Park, which will provide a feeder program for Mountain View.

Commissioner John Heard said he talked to members of the Dacula-area athletic association about volunteering to help, as the county has $15 million in sales tax money to fund the construction of both but little means to add to its operations.

"We're going to have to lean heavily on our volunteers," Heard said.

Earlier in the day, commissioners gave a nod to Volunteer Gwinnett, a program envisioned during the Engage Gwinnett process last year to have 1 million volunteer hours in the next five years. As part of the vote, money was allocated to hire a part-time coordinator for the program.

"I am most optimistic about the potential for this initiative to unite the citizens of the county in shared sacrifice, shared experience, and shared success," said Norwood Davis, a member of the Engage group who had the idea. "The uniting power of volunteering for the common good promises to be the defining and most beneficial legacy of the initiative."