A four-month face-lift of Wildwood Park's entrance way has been completed, pending a final walkthrough.
The result is an easier, safer entry and exit into and out of the park, plus a more appealing, modernized look, said Barry Smith, director of Community and Leisure Services for Columbia County.
In the past, anglers exiting the park with boats in tow -- oftentimes tournament anglers with very expensive boats -- had trouble seeing oncoming traffic because of a knoll that obscured the view, Smith said.
"We decided to move the entrance way 250 feet closer to Keg Creek. ... Before it was a safety issue," Smith said.
To make entry and exit smoother, Smith said, the county decided to put in a three-lane section of road once people entering the park reach the gatehouse area. The gatehouse is roughly half a mile into the park.
As for the look of the park entrance way, Smith noted several distinct upgrades. The county installed an LED sign at the gatehouse that will be used to display park prices, upcoming tournaments and other announcements.
Near the entrance way, there are two new signs with the Columbia County insignia, in addition to new stacked stone columns with wood-split railing between, lighting, and shrubs.
"It's a fresh, new look," Smith said. "There's lighting at night, so people riding by will certainly recognize that it's a county facility and visit later."
The project cost the county a little more than $1 million out of 1-percent sales tax funds identified for Wildwood Park. Entrance roadway modification cost about $700,000, the gatehouse and entrance way landscape enhancements roughly $200,000, and miscellaneous infrastructure improvements $140,000.
The upgrades were completed as part of the park's master plan, Smith said, in an attempt to accommodate large bass fishing tournaments and to modernize the park. One such modernization was introducing a color brochure with a map of the park.
On Saturday, Wildwood Park will serve as host of an American Bass Anglers event. It's the first ABA event to be held at the park.
Park Coordinator Jeb Bell said he has received positive feedback regarding the changes.
"Everybody really likes it. ... They've been really complimentary about it," he said. "It highlights the place, makes it more professional looking."
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