Jessica Campbell, Andrea Gregory, Rick Osbon Eustis Park

Aiken Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Campbell, front left, hands out hardhats to City Council members ahead of the Eustis Park community center groundbreaking.

The Aiken City Council ceremoniously turned the shovel on the Eustis Park community center project Monday afternoon, with dump trucks and backhoes already pushing dirt behind them.

The community center project – adjacent to the recently updated Eustis Park – will take 14 months to complete, according to a City estimate. The overall project is 14 years in the making. It has a $4.55 million budget.

The 12,000-square-foot center will house a 296-person banquet hall, meeting rooms, office space and a catering kitchen.

Aiken City Council member Lessie Price said the center will become a destination for everyone – not just young or old.

eustis park groupdbreaking

Aiken City Council members scoop shovels of dirt at the official groundbreaking of the Eustis Park community center. Pictured, from left, are Council members Ed Woltz, Andrea Gregory, Gail Diggs, Mayor Rick Osbon, Dick Dewar, Ed Girardeau and Lessie Price.

"It's for you," she said.

Price, who represents the district in which the center will be located, said the project, upon completion, will seriously "make a great difference in the quality of life."

"It's much needed," Price said, adding that the neighborhood it's in – Toole Hill – is otherwise lacking such a facility.

Jessica Campbell, the Parks and Recreation director, agreed.

"Our studies in the past have shown this was an area with need," she said at the groundbreaking. 

Colin Demarest is a reporter with Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since November 2017. He is a New Jersey native and received his B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of South Carolina. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin