Saturday, March 30, 2013
North Augusta's Riverview Park received a grand reopening Monday as city officials and other community members gathered to celebrate recent additions and upgrades at the park's baseball and softball fields.
Rick Meyer, North Augusta's director of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, championed local efforts to help renovate the facility, describing it as one of the gems of the community.
"Most communities think they have a slice of heaven in their backyard, and, in North Augusta, our slice of heaven is right here at Riverview Park," Meyer said.
He offered gratitude to former City Councilwoman Ellen Smith, adding that her vision as a city official in the 1970s and '80s helped to shape and grow the park. Smith died earlier this month.
North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones said he remembered when the city had only two or three fields to service the community, a testament to the development of both the city and the park.
"Never in my imagination would I have ever dreamed that we would have facilities like we have now in North Augusta," Jones said.
He noted all the upgrades over the years have helped turn Riverview Park into a hub of activity for the city.
He also said the park helps to put the city "on the map," particularly with the strength of local recreation programs and the annual Nike Peach Jam.
"North Augusta has always been a sports-focused town and we'll remain that, yet in recent years, we've also put emphasis on the arts and other things, too. We're becoming a complete community in a lot of ways."
The recent renovations and additions cost about $5 million, Jones said, adding that most of the upgrades were funded through Aiken County's Capital Sales Tax Program, a referendum approved by voters in 2004.
"The improvements were finished in the fall, but this also helped us kick off baseball season," Jones said. "They were going to have to have a big thing over the weekend with vendors and all kinds of things, but the weather just prohibited it."
After Monday's ceremony, City Administrator Todd Glover described the park as not only a great recreational facility, but also an economic engine for the city.
"Anytime I have people come in that are looking to bring in new business, I bring them here," Glover said. "This helps bring business to North Augusta."
Other community members featured at the event were TrueNorth Church Pastor Steve Davis, who offered a prayer and blessing, and North Augusta Idol 2012 winner Soteria Raymond, who sang the national anthem.