Already rich in recreation, Lilburn is just months from becoming even more so.
Gwinnett County's $8.5 million Bryson Park on Lawrenceville Highway near Hood Road is fast approaching its projected completion in March 2012, exciting people like Gwinnett Parks and Recreation Division Director Grant Guess about a western part of Lilburn that some consider underserved.
"We hope this provides some of that active recreation that has been missing in that area," Guess said of the 69-acre park just west of Lilburn Middle School. "It's a long overdue, active park in that area of the county."
Former Lilburn mayor Jack Bolton, a member of Gwinnett's Parks and Recreation Authority, agreed.
"[Bryson] is a much-needed facility," he said. "The south end of the county and especially the Lilburn area, has been underserved by Parks and Recreation. There's been a concerted effort by the county and a focus on changing that."
Begun in February, being built with SPLOST funds and ultimately county-run, Bryson's land at 5075 Lawrenceville Highway, is being graded and its roads and curbing installed. When complete, it's expected to join Mountain Park and downtown City Park as Lilburn's premier outdoor recreation venues. A mile from soon-renovated Lions Club Park off Rockbridge Road, among Bryson's hallmark features will be a track-encircled artificial turf field for football, soccer and lacrosse.
The park also will boast two fenced and lighted soccer fields, as well as one full and two half basketball courts, 7,300- and 2,600-square-foot playgrounds, a half-mile walking trail and 500-plus parking spaces.
Planned was an interactive fountain and activity building near Bryson's entrance, but Guess said their projected operating expense put them on hold. A $700,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation soon will help extend Lilburn's Greenway Trail from Killian Hill along Jackson Creek to Bryson.
Potentially, Bryson could provide a sense of community to a part of Lilburn rife with demographic changes. Gerald McDowell, director of a Lilburn Community Improvement District, designed to enhance the four-mile Lawrenceville Highway corridor from Rockbridge Road to Ronald Reagan Parkway, agreed Bryson's soccer fields will attract the area's soccer-enthused Hispanic youths.
"Bryson might address that void for those younger adolescents," he said. "That's a wow factor that'll be well-received by families in that community."
Doug Stacks, Lilburn economic development director, said Bryson has been among the county's most highly awaited enhancements since master-planned more than a decade ago.
"We're ready for it to be done and are anticipating a lot of folks using it," he said. "A lot of people see a lot of red clay there right now, but we're excited about seeing it done. It's definitely going to be a well-used park."