A local university is expanding — again.
Brenau University is the recipient of a 16.8-acre land donation from the South Carolina-based Pacolet Milliken Enterprises Inc., which will be used primarily for athletic fields.
“We see this development as another community asset,” Brenau University President Ed Schrader said. “Certainly we want people from all around to come as spectators for softball games, track meets and soccer matches. But we also want them to come and play and enjoy recreational opportunities for the whole family.”
The planned $4.4 million development includes new softball and soccer fields for the school, along with facilities for track and field programs. Other plans include a community walking and jogging track, along with hosting various events open to the public throughout the year.
“We envision the Brenau Athletic Park as a vital community asset in an area that has only begun to see significant commercial and residential development,” Schrader said. “We are grateful that Pacolet Milliken shares the vision and through its generosity has made it a reality.”
The company didn’t disclose the land valuation. The land is by Jesse Jewell Parkway at U.S. 129 and Ga. 369, adjacent to the Milliken & Co. mill in unincorporated Hall County.
“Pacolet Milliken’s roots are grounded with the Milliken family,” Richard Webel, president of Pacolet Milliken, wrote in a news release. “The New Holland community has been an important part of our history, and we are pleased to support Brenau’s vision of how this land can be put to use for the university and the community as a whole.”
Schrader said construction on the first phase of the project will begin as soon as possible so the softball facilities will be ready for home games in the spring of 2015. The initial phase will include the site development, a softball field and bleachers, parking and a field house.
“We have not had any of our own fields,” Vice President for External Relations Matt Thomas said. “We have been using some of the local fields. We’ve been having our home games at the Allen Creek Soccer Complex, and we also have been utilizing the Lanier Point Softball Complex. This will be the first time that we have the opportunity to have our own fields.”
The land donation and relationship between Brenau and Pacolet Milliken have been in the works since 2012.
“I think that it’s always wonderful when we’re able to expand the opportunities for our students,” Thomas said. “We’re also very mindful of having everything that we do be a benefit to the community at large. ... I think with this field, it will benefit us greatly, it will benefit our students for generations to come and it will also benefit the community.”
Brenau currently fields teams in women’s soccer, softball, basketball, tennis, cross country, track and field, volleyball and golf.