The Richmond Hill City Council Tuesday approved $75,000 in upgrades to J.F. Gregory Park and $50,000 for a new park to be built behind the Sterling Creek Plantation subdivision.
The upgrades at J.F. Gregory Park are being done through an agreement with the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Chamber of Commerce to better accommodate musical acts for the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival.
“This is something the business community has gotten behind as the festival has grown and we want to continue providing high quality entertainment,” said Jim Gardner, president of the Chamber board.
Assistant City Manager Scott Allison said the amphitheater will be removed and the slope of the hill between it and the Richmond Hill City Center will be smoothed out. A stage on top of a concrete pad on the hill will allow for more room during music performances at the festival.
“The musical acts don’t use the amphitheater because it’s too low, and it’s actually only been used nine times in the last three years,” Allison said. “Moving the stage away from the pavilion will give people more room to spread out.”
Although city council voted to use SPLOST money for the $75,000, the Chamber has agreed to pre-pay the use fee for the park to host the GOSF for the next five years. That amount, at $15,000 per year, equals the $75,000 outlay by the city.
Allison said the work is expected to be done in time for this year’s festival, which runs Oct. 14-16.
The $50,000 for the new park — also SPLOST money — is to allow work to begin on the first phase, which will include running and biking trails and cleaning up a six-acre lake on the property.
While it is currently being called Sterling Creek Park, it could be renamed at a later date. The city bought the 187-acre parcel five years ago with the intent of developing a park there. Future phases could include a picnic shelter, campground and fishing pier.