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Park to be transformed by project

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Former Lilburn mayor Jack Bolton walks through Lions Club Park in Lilburn which will under go remodeling starting in June. The construction which is estimated to last 11 months will increase the park property from 17 acres to 50 acres.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Former Lilburn mayor Jack Bolton walks through Lions Club Park in Lilburn which will under go remodeling starting in June. The construction which is estimated to last 11 months will increase the park property from 17 acres to 50 acres.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Former Lilburn mayor Jack Bolton points to where the Lilburn Greenway Trail will be traveling under Rockbridge Road at Lions Club Park in Lilburn. The construction which is estimated to last 11 months will include an increase the park property from 17 acres to 50 acres.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan A softball field is among the fields at Lions Club Park in Lilburn which will under go remodeling starting in June. The construction which is estimated to last 11 months will include an increase from 17 acres to 50 acres.

LILBURN -- It's not just a park renovation. It's a gut job.

Seven years since taking over Lilburn Lions Club Park, county officials have approved the work to give the nearly 40-year-old park an entirely new life.

"I know it will mean, for that athletic association, it'll mean better facilities and better ability to serve the youth that are playing there. And with all the additional amenities, it'll serve all age brackets, not just the youth," said Jack Bolton, who has spent decades trying to help the park along.

Formerly managed by the local Lions Club, the city took over the park in the 1990s, years before Bolton became a councilman then mayor.

A decade later, degradation left the city with little choice but to sell it, before local parents rallied to entreat the county into making it a part of the Gwinnett park system.

Not long after the county took over in 2005, upgrading the facilities to a level that would keep kids safe as they played, local parent Gerald Mitchell said he was glad to keep the "Patriot pride" alive in a community that feeds into Berkmar's athletic programs.

Now, Community Services Director Phil Hoskins says a $5.3 million reconstruction project approved by commissioners May 1 will constitute more than a face-lift.

"The project involves totally demolishing the existing facilities and building a five-field baseball/softball complex with parking, a concessions/restroom building, a plaza area and batting cages. Other major elements will include a pavilion and playground area with parking and restrooms as well as a 1.1-mile paved trail with benches, adult swings and small shelters," Hoskins said in an email.

Over the past several years, county officials have added to the 33 acres leased from the city, bringing the total new park acreage to 50 acres.

Bolton, a Recreation Authority member who served on a steering committee of neighbors who helped design the new park, said one of the features he is most excited about is the park's trail, which will connect to the two-plus-mile Lilburn Greenway, connecting homeowners from Rockbridge Road to Killian Hill Road.

Fulfilling a need in the under-served community, Lions Club Park will be just a part of the youth sports for the Berkmar community, Bolton said, adding that nearby Bryson Park will house the football and soccer programs.

Construction is expected to begin next month, and the park will remain closed until the work is completed next spring.

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