“We wanted to come up with a completely different concept,” said Jasper Council Member Johnny Rollins, whose district will include O’Rear park.
The Jasper City Council recently approved a bid from Southside Excavating to clear the site of the park.
Rollins said city leaders purchased the land for the project about five years ago. Though city leaders did not have the funds to build the park at the time, Rollins said they received a good deal and knew they could find a use for it in the future.
The property appraised for $6,500 per acre in 2007, but city purchasing agents got the land for $4,500 per acre. Rollins said the owner reduced the price with the request that city leaders name the park in honor of the original landowner, Elijah O’Rear.
O’Rear is also the namesake for Camp O’Rear, a Boy Scout camp located in the Curry community. Since purchasing the land, Rollins said city leaders have referred to the project as O’Rear Park.
Earlier this year, the city council approved a $2 million loan that included three construction projects: O’Rear Park; the Southside Pool (which opened on Memorial Day); and the Miracle Field, a sports facility made to accommodate children with special needs.
City leaders have budgeted around $350,000 for O’Rear Park.
The site will be on the corner of Walston Bridge Road and Pinkey Drive. It will include a playground area, a large field and walking and biking trails. City leaders plan to keep much of the park wooded, and even most of the open areas will have trees dotting the landscape.
Rollins said city leaders also plan to install an ampitheater and a treehouse, but those expenses will likely not be included in the $350,000 budgeted for the project.
“We are just going to see how far we can go with $350,000 and go from there,” he said.
Though the O’Rear Park project has been a priority for him, Rollins said the city council and mayor should be commended for their work in getting the project moving forward.
“I think it’s going to be something that we’ll all be proud of,” he said.
Mayor Sonny Posey said the park will be a benefit to the entire city.
“That’s been long overdue for the folks in that area of town,” he said. “I’m just glad to see all the different sections of town have their own park or recreation area.”