HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Mayor Tommy Battle and other city officials gave WHNT a construction tour of John Hunt Park on Thursday.
The park was originally built in the late 1960s at the site of the first Huntsville airport. But officials said they want to make John Hunt Park more than just a park. They plan to make it a central park that encourages people from all over North Alabama to come together.
Mayor Battle called it an investment that has big returns.
"That investment turns into a community place for all of North Alabama," Battle said. "We end up with travel and tourism dollars coming in here. We end up with entertainment venues coming in here. All of those make for a better quality of life, but also it's a good investment for the city of Huntsville."
According to John Hamilton, Huntsville City Administrator, many of the park's new additions were inspired by an influx in newly popular sports and activities.
“The sand volleyball complex is an example of that. If we went back three or four years ago that wasn’t part of the vision, but sand volleyball has now become a college sport," said Hamilton. "The NCAA has sand volleyball and we’re seeing our youth leagues and our clubs respond to that. And there’s a significant increase in demand from our citizens to have that kind of venue."
Hamilton said lacrosse is also growing in popularity in North Alabama, and the city hopes to attract competitions and tournaments to John Hunt Park.
New additions to the park will include 12 sand volleyball courts, a cross-country course and a disc golf course. Officials say they also plan to improve the kids' space playground.
Phase one of construction is estimated to cost about $17 million and is expected to be complete in 2019.