Having high quality recreation in a community shouldn’t be viewed as a expense, but rather an investment. This mentality appears to be one of the drivers behind the expansion and upgrades at North Augusta’s Riverview Park. The City is set to add two gyms and has already added new security cameras at the Park.

Concerns have arisen in recent months that North Augusta could face stiff competition in the future from cities interested in hosting the basketball tournaments that currently take place at Riverview Park. The City of Memphis – in an effort lead by former pro basketball player Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway – has expressed interest in hosting major tournaments, which likely would include the Peach Jam and Nike Nationals – two tournaments that currently bring the best basketball talents in the country to North Augusta.

By improving the gym, the City can show Nike that local leaders have a sense of urgency to meet their expectations and keep up with the growth of the tournaments.

The challenge of having a successful program is that as popularity grows, space shrinks. More people come to watch and more coaches come to recruit for both the boys’ and girls’ side. Expanding the gym has been in for the works for several years, but it takes leadership to actually progress the project. If the City only says it’s going to do it, but doesn’t move forward, it certainly makes it easier for attractions such as the Peach Jam and the Nike Nationals to look elsewhere.

The funds to expand the gym were actually part of Aiken County’s Capital Project Sales Tax 3, a one-cent tax referendum approved by voters, which also went toward projects related to the Greeneway and Municipal Building. All three entities have helped to create a unique identity for North Augusta and showed that the City is interested in growth.

Additionally, the City is looking to develop a dog park, which will be an extra asset for recreation. Residents can walk their dogs on a leash on the Greeneway, but by creating a space dedicated to a dog park, residents can enjoy quality time with their pet outside in a public space. Aiken, Augusta and Columbia County each have such a community resource, and with more folks bringing their dogs to the park, it certainly makes sense to add one in North Augusta.

Three more tennis courts and a tennis clubhouse will also be added, hopefully helping to grow interest in the sport. Such a resource can rival other tennis facilities in the area, including the Newman Tennis Center in Augusta.

Each aspect of the growing recreational opportunities in North Augusta will help to not only retain and attract residents, but should also be considered an economic engine for the community. The City is wisely offering its residents a needed service that can be branded and marketed throughout the region.