DOBSON — The excitement among the crowd assembled at the intersection of South Crutchfield and West Atkins streets in Dobson Monday morning was palpable.
A family, complete with baby stroller and dog, walked by on the now-closed Comer Street and looked longingly at an empty lot that will soon be transformed into Dobson Square Park.
“This is a pretty huge, monumental day,” Town Manager Josh Smith told the group assembled for the official groundbreaking of the long-anticipated park. “Today signals the first big recreational endeavor in town.”
Construction was set to get under way almost immediately after the groundbreaking ceremony, and Smith credited the town’s board of commissioners and staff with making the day possible.
“It’s all about vision,” he said. “We had to be visionary and the town’s board and staff should be credited with supporting that vision. They have done a great job establishing a vision for the future of the town and are working very hard to follow through on that vision.”
The 2.5-acre park will house two picnic shelters, one of which will double as the site of the town’s farmer’s market, an ampitheater, an interactive fountain, splash pad, playground and walking trails.
“This will no doubt be a tremendous asset for the town,” he told the 50 or so people who turned out for the ceremony.
Mayor Ricky Draughn agreed.
“It will certainly be a face-changing thing for downtown Dobson,” he said. “It will change the downtown area for the positive and will become the centerpiece of our community
The park is being constructed by Mount Airy-based Simcon Company, who secured the contract for the $1,324,500 park.
Dobson has secured a grant worth $498,000 from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which is expected to cover about half the construction costs for the park.
Smith said he sees the park as the town’s gathering spot.
“Our ultimate goal here is to provide an opportunity for people to gather and enjoy each other,” he said. “I can see us hosting movie nights, concerts, cookouts, the possibilities are endless.
“We envision this park as a place for families and communities,” he said. “There are all kinds of things we can do.
“This is going to be great,” Smith added. “It’s going to be so much more than a playground. This park will be a platform where we can host a multitude of community events going forward.”
After turning over the first ceremonial shovels of dirt, the town manager smiled and looked at the crowd of town residents.
“Hopefully, by the end of this year, we’ll have a finished park for you to enjoy,” he said.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.