New playground, basketball courts part of Smith-Hazel renovation plans

Sep. 13—New basketball courts and interior improvements will be part of a six-month renovation plan at Smith-Hazel Recreation Center.

Due to a grant that was awarded to the City of Aiken Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Smith-Hazel Recreation Center will get interior and exterior and upgrades.

The department was awarded $9 million grant, but the city council allocated $1.5 million of the grant for renovations at Smith-Hazel.

The updates were discussed during a Sept. 11 Aiken City Council work session.

Exterior work will include:

—Site work for storm water management;

—Adding new playground equipment;

—Reconstruction of two tennis courts;

—Construction of two new basketball courts;

—Construction of a shade structure; and

—Adding walking trail.

Interior work will include:

—Adding handicap accessibility and

—Installing new air conditioning.

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Jessica Campbell said once the new basketball courts are complete, the department will address another phase of renovation that could include additional parking.

The budget for the project is $900,000, which doesn't include the additional basketball court. The department received a grant for $306,625 to complete exterior renovations. The second basketball court will be constructed with another grant.

Campbell said an architect has submitted plans to the city for site and landscape review.

Parks and Recreation received a $350,000 grant from the South Carolina Department on Aging, which is a matching grant the will help with the renovation costs.

Landscape architect for the project, Lance Cheely, spoke on some additions which will include pickleball courts and changes to some of the walkways.

Cam Scott, with Cheatham Fletcher Scott Architects, said interior construction could begin in November.

Campbell said that during the renovation process, some programs like youth basketball and some senior programs will be held at another recreation center, such as the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.

"For both projects, we are about to take off quickly and cross the finish line," Campbell said.