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Laurel Park gets upgrades
Protective sleeves have been added to the sprayground fence at Laurel Park. Now visitors can hang their towels to dry without getting snagged and torn on the fence top.
Laurel Park is getting a makeover.

The changes may seem small — umbrellas in the sprayground water park and better grass management — but parents are already noting a difference.

"This is my first time this year, but the umbrellas are new and great, and the spray looks a little different," said Claire Elliott while toting 6-month-old Ava as Connor, 3, ran through the fountains. "This place is great because it’s fenced in and easy to keep track of kids. The $1 price is fantastic, and the area is good for non-swimmers."

The changes started this month as new faces appeared on the Hall County Parks and Leisure management team. Director Greg Walker and maintenance superintendent Lance Reid decided the park needed some sprucing up.

"It’s been so neglected and run down," Reid said. "We need to bring it up to par."

At the sprayground, safety wiring is added to the top of the fence for safety and to stop the inevitable snagged towel. A ventilated door was added to the small pump room, which will decrease noise and prolong the life of the motor. After July 4, Reid plans to haul sand to the edge of the lake at the park and create a small beach area. The park will also see bathroom renovations and a new splash park surface this fall.

"I’ve never seen changes until this year," said Alison Ingram, who has volunteered at the park with her sister Cathryn for nine years. "So many people have asked for a little beach area, and our fields have never looked better. The maintenance crew is really restoring a service to the community."

Reid is particularly looking forward to new events popping up this fall — a dock dogs diving event in September and an FLW Outdoors fishing tournament in August.

"We’re working on super boat ramps and a live well fish return," he said. "People can reserve camping spots if they stay overnight after events. We have electrical receptacles and spaces for motorcoaches."

The changes are slowly building, and Reid hopes it sets a precedent for the future.

"We need to get this park up to people’s expectations," he said. "It’s a test pilot for our other facilities, so we’ll see what happens here and create a five-year plan to move them up, too."