Local children and Point University athletes broke the new West Point Recreation facilities in right Friday afternoon at a family fun day sponsored by the city.
It was a grand opening and open house for the building and ball fields on U.S. 29, and the first look inside the renovated former West Point High School gym for many. Point University has its athletic offices in the building with the gym, along with the West Point Recreation Department.
Point University President Dean Collins said he’s often asked why the former Atlanta Christian College changed its name and moved from a metro area an hour south to a small town.
“Today answers the question ‘Why West Point?’” Collins said. He said a larger city often isn’t willing to work with a college and “be creative” in integrating it into the town. West Point has been more than welcoming.
“I hope you sense a partnership (between the city and the college),” Collins said. “I invite you to come and watch our teams play.”
But it was a day for West Point Recreation to shine as well, with child-athletes tossing out the first balls of their respective sports to local officials. The city has taken criticism from a small but vocal group who say the recreation facilities have been taken over by point and local residents can’t use them, even though a special-purpose, local-option sales tax passed here funded the renovations.
City officials say the renovation of the entire recreation area isn’t complete and residents need to wait to see the finished product.
“The completion (of the gym and ball fields) is just the first steps of a journey,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson IV in his remarks before the ribbon was cut officially.
Ferguson, Troup County Commission Chairman Ricky Wolfe and Richard Fuller, one of West Point’s representatives on the county recreation board, all praised the project and the cooperation between the city, the county and Point that got it done.
“I’m proud to see what the SPLOST dollars did,” said Fuller. “I was born and raised here. I grew up playing on these fields.”
Wolfe also played in West Point – he said the last time he’d been in the gym he was a seventh-grader at Hill Street Junior High School in LaGrange, playing West Point’s basketball team.
He said when West Point chose to devote almost all of its $3 million SPLOST allocation to recreation, the county chose to match it.
“It was impressive to me (the city made that choice),” he said. “We’re all invested in this.”
Ferguson called West Point a “remarkable place to live.”
“This kind of project happens because of vision and teamwork,” he said. “It’s fun right now, but the future is bright.”