Outdoor and indoor recreation options abound in this Middle Georgia region.
The Robins Region is awash in natural resources where people can enjoy outdoor recreation and access nature, from kayaking and canoeing on 150-acre Houston Lake to hiking, camping, hunting and fishing at the 13,240-acre Oaky Woods Wildlife Management Area.
In recent years, communities across the region have made a significant financial undertaking to create additional outdoor options for their residents.
“There has been a huge commitment,” says Jarred Reneau, director of Warner Robins Parks & Recreation. “It’s a testament to how serious people are about making this a top priority for our citizens, and also for economic development. When you have both your citizens and economic development in mind, it makes your whole community better.”
Investments Paying Off in Robins Region
The evidence of that is easy to find throughout Houston County, where approximately $35 million has been invested to build new facilities and renovate existing ones. More than half that total went toward the new $18 million North Houston Sports Complex that opened in April 2021 in Warner Robins, GA.
The 65-acre facility includes four indoor basketball courts, eight volleyball courts, 12 pickleball courts, an indoor track, four baseball/softball fields, two general fitness areas, meeting rooms and even an activity room for art classes.
“The complex is already having an impact, both for our residents and with people and sports teams coming here from Atlanta, Florida and South Carolina,” Reneau says. “It’s helping make us more of a true destination for people now.”
Location: 900 N. Houston Road, Warner Robins
On a smaller scale, approximately $1.2 million was invested in the creation of the 22-acre Walk at Sandy Run, which opened in 2019. Situated along Sandy Run Creek on the western side of Warner Robins, the park includes waterside boardwalks, walking paths through the woods, a play area and a covered picnic area.
The county also recently opened a 22-court tennis complex, renovated two green spaces and added outdoor basketball courts. “It’s all about promoting healthy living for the community,” Reneau says.
In the Middle of the Action in Centerville, GA
The City of Centerville is doing the same with the December 2020 opening of the 10-acre Center Park, located in the heart of the city’s Central Business District. This new green space, which is part of a master plan the city launched in 2016, was created with substantial input from residents.
“Center Park was a blank slate, so this was an opportunity for residents to put forth their priorities for the park, including the types of amenities they wanted,” says Kate Hogan, Centerville director of economic development. “So this park was truly designed by the public.”
The park includes a playground, splash pad, pavilion and restrooms. Hogan says it will now be the site for most of the city’s events, including a periodic farmers market, food truck gatherings, yoga classes, movie nights, Fourth of July fireworks, a Christmas parade, concerts and festivals. It will also host the annual Fall Festival, which attracts more than 100 arts-and-crafts vendors.
Location: 103 E. Church St.
In addition, Hogan says Center Park serves as a community gathering spot, where residents can enjoy a picnic, kick a soccer ball, throw a football, flip a Frisbee or simply take a lap (or several) around the paved walking/running track that encircles the entire facility.
“We offer plenty of active programming to make sure we have things that are free and family friendly to do. But when there is no programming going on, Center Park gives people the opportunity to just be in a nice green space,” Hogan says.
“It really is a space that is so open, you can make it into whatever you want it to be. We wanted to create a community space that is the cornerstone of a larger economic impact plan.
“It allows for the opportunity for some natural growth to occur in that area: retail and restaurants, office space, maybe a hotel. There’s a lot of great economic impact that we expect Center Park will spur over the next few years.”