Dillon Park and Recreation Department
With help from the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce and City of Sumter officials, a ceremonial ribbon was cut on Dillon Park’s new football facility on Sept. 19, 2019.
As part of the Penny for Progress, Dillon Park got a new exercise track and playground equipment in the spring of 2017. Families can now enjoy three new football fields, thanks to the Capital Penny Sales Tax.
County Council Chairman James T. McCain Jr. welcomed the crowd at Dillon Park, noting that Sumter has a world class softball, baseball and soccer complex at Patriot Park.
“And now we have a world class football complex here in Sumter as well,” he said.
McCain recited a phrase used by fellow Councilman Eugene Baten: If you invest in yourself, others will invest in you.
Council member Vivian Fleming-McGhaney offered an invocation, thanking God for “every good and perfect gift.”
She also thanked God for all the “servants who made this project come to fruition.”
Councilman Eugene Baten led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance; also in attendance was Councilman Artie Baker.
McGhaney, whose District includes Dillon Park, thanked everyone for being present as “it shows the unity that we have here in Sumter.”
She said she doesn’t take public service lightly and has been on Council long enough to remember when the first Penny for Progress was being discussed.
“We want to keep Sumter progressing,” she said. “City and County together.”
McCain thanked City Manager Deron McCormick for being present to show support for Team Sumter, and noted that with the City’s Palmetto Tennis Center and Aquatics Center, Sumter will be known for our sports facilities.
Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon also recognized support from the City of Sumter, along with the Development Board, Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce, and Santee Lynches Regional Council of Governments as “it takes a team to accomplish tasks like this.”
“I see the folks that make a difference in Sumter,” he said.
Mixon thanked the Sumter County Purchasing Department for their work on the project and thanked Assistant County Administrator Lorraine Dennis for her work.
Mixon also thanked architect John Jackson from Jackson/Sims Architects for his vision and ongoing collaborations with County Government.
“There’s a lot of good things going on in this community,” Mixon said, and thanked Hardee Construction for their work on Dillon Park.
Recreation, he said, isn’t a core function of County Government like law enforcement or Emergency Medical Services, but recreation enhances the quality of life for all the citizens of the county.
“I’m proud that County Council and the community choose to do this well,” he said.
Recreation & Parks Director Phil Parnell said he’s excited to have a facility like Dillon Park as he’s been in recreation for 26 years.
“We’re the envy of other recreation and parks departments in the state of South Carolina,” he said, noting that his staff and maintenance crew are the best in the state as well.
“We’re blessed to have great people who take pride in trying to offer recreation and park services to our community,” he said.
The upgrades include three new regulation fields, wireless scoreboards, goal posts, an irrigation system, sidewalks, LED lighting, a concession stand and press box, a pavilion area, a parking lot and a new storage building.
Total cost of the Dillon Park renovations are $2.75 million.
If you’ve walked or driven down North Purdy Street or traversed Haynsworth Street recently, you’ve noticed quite a bit of activity as a new gymnasium is taking shape next to the Sumter County Recreation & Parks Department.
The new 12,800-square-foot gym is the centerpiece of a three-phase plan to reshape recreation in Sumter for generations to come.
“Recreation is a key aspect of quality of life in Sumter County and we want our kids to have first rate facilities,” said Sumter County Administrator Gary Mixon. “Last year we cut the ribbon on a new football complex at Dillon Park and next year we will have a new gym as our basketball program is very popular. We think this new gym will be well received.”
Hawkins & Kolb Construction Co. is the general contractor and RS Bell Architects were chosen through an open bidding process to take on the project.
Sumter County Recreation & Parks Director Phil Parnell said the project broke ground in late April and should be complete by next Spring. The first phase involves new gym construction along with a lobby area that will connect the current gym to the new facility.
Inside of the current facility the cafeteria will be reshaped into a commercial kitchen and meeting room. Already part of the existing building that formerly housed an old wood shop has been demolished to make way for future upgrades.
Phase two will greatly improve the existing gym. New LED lights have been installed, Parnell said, and new flooring will be installed along with a new HVAC system, new scoreboards and new goals.
The new gym and the existing gym will get synthetic flooring known under the trade name of Omnisports 7.1 mm, which is a multi-layered vinyl sports floor designed to endure years of activity.
“It’s what everybody is using now,” Parnell said. “It’s highly durable.”
The ability to offer indoor sports was somewhat limited as the current gym doesn’t have air conditioning, he explained, so basketball season had to be played in the winter.
Soon, Sumter County will be able to offer volleyball, pickleball and basketball year-round.
“It just opens us up for so much more and gives us an area for day camps,” he said. “There’s a lot you can do with gyms.”
The second phase will also include a new concessions area able to offer an expanded menu, or what Parnell calls “a full-service concession stand” with deep fryers and fountain drinks.
The final phase of the Recreation & Parks makeover will be to remove the gazebo that sits outside the building and relocate the electrical equipment housed therein.
More parking spaces will be added, which will also benefit the Cultural Center, and heating and air conditioning will be added to the front offices.
“It’s pretty exciting to know how this will change recreational opportunities for years to come,” he said.
Total costs of these projects is $6 million.
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