An estimated 60,000 people have attended events at Dalton’s Burr Performing Arts Park so far this year, according to City Manager Andrew Parker.
“We have I think 22 more events planned through the end of the year,” Parker said. “We’re working to make this the premier city to live, work and play (in Georgia), and Burr Park is an important part of that effort.”
Parker and Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce President Jason Mock recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Dalton.
Parker said one of his “principal duties” is overseeing the city government’s capital projects.
“The current project list is just over $52 million,” he said. “We are committed to completing these on time and on budget for our citizens to enjoy. This aligns with our goal of making Dalton Georgia’s premier city to live, work and play in.”
Parker noted that the city parking deck adjacent to Burr Park was recently demolished after a report found significant structural problems. The 76 parking spaces that were below the deck are now open again.
“We don’t yet know where we’re going to go to build a new parking deck,” Parker said. “We monitor the usage of these parking lots. Currently the usage rate is around 75%.”
Parker noted that the Northeast Community Soccer Complex at Heritage Point Park opened about two weeks ago.
“We had our first games on Sunday 11 September,” he said. “I think we had six youth games that day.”
The city used approximately $7.075 million of its share of the four-year, $66 million 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) approved by Whitfield County voters to place two football fields in FIFA- Great to build as part of the complex. FIFA is an international football association. The SPLOST is a 1% sales tax on most goods sold in the county.
These fields are part of four FIFA-sized fields due to open in the greater Dalton area in 2022.
A grass field is located on the campus of Dalton Junior High School and Dalton Academy. The fourth is in Whitfield County’s Riverbend Park, on the South Bypass near Southeast Whitfield High School.
“Now we can support some of these regional tournaments that we want to attract,” Parker said.
Parker cited a study by Believe Greater Dalton that found that 60% of people who work in Whitfield County in a job that makes $40,000 or more live elsewhere. He said projects like the football fields at Heritage Point Park and a planned water sports center next to the Dalton Convention Center could help attract those people to live in Dalton.
The $23 million aquatic center is expected to feature a 50-meter competition-size swimming pool as well as an 25-by-25-meter multipurpose pool that could be used for physical therapy. The city retains the outdoor pool at the John Davis Recreation Center, located in James Brown Park.
The City Council recently approved a $5 million contract with Dalton-based Felker Construction to renovate the recreation center.
The aquatic center is expected to accommodate approximately 900 spectators and a separate seating area for approximately 500 swimmers. City council members said the aquatic center will host swimming competitions for local schools, as well as swimming lessons and recreational swimming. City officials also hope it will host regional swimming events across the United States.
It is planned that the competition cymbal will have a Myrtha stainless steel cymbal liner, which is intended to create a very “fast cymbal”.
Parker said he expects work on the project to begin in the second quarter of 2023 and be completed in late 2024 or early 2025.
Parker said city officials put a lot of effort into improving Dalton’s appearance and cleaning up or demolishing destroyed buildings.
“I’m preparing a budget proposal to the mayor and council to double our code compliance staff,” he said. “We’ve got two right now. It’s all they can do to keep up.”
Mock, who came to the chamber from the San Marcos, Texas chamber in March, said when interviewed by Dalton’s chamber board, he asked her what her #1 priority was. He said the answer was “1a housing and 1b education”.
He said part of his mission is to work with local governments and developers to create more housing, and with local school systems to improve educational opportunities.
“We are here to help our economy grow and our local businesses thrive,” he said.