Parts of three of the Greater Dalton area’s most used recreational facilities will receive major rehabs thanks to grants recently approved by Gov. Brian Kemp. In addition, grant money will fund the last remaining portion of the Streetscape improvements to downtown Dalton that began more than two decades ago.

Kemp announced grants totaling more than $225 million for 142 projects across the state from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“With our partners on both the local and state levels we’ve prioritized helping Georgia’s communities further recover from the (COVID-19) pandemic with a bottom-up approach,” said Kemp in a statement.

Whitfield County will receive $2,100,275.10 for the Prater’s Mill Historic Site-South Side project as well as $966,783.40 for the rehabilitation of damaged tennis courts at Edwards Park.

“We are very excited to be awarded the two grants for a combined over $3 million to improve recreation for a wide range of Whitfield County citizens,” said Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jevin Jensen. “Our dual strategy of applying for multiple grants and putting in the work last year to develop a long-term strategic plan for Prater’s Mill has paid off. We will now be able to expand on the south side of the property with this grant — adding permanent restrooms, additional parking and a walking track.”

Jensen said the grants will also fund repairs to the tennis courts at Edwards Park, which have failing foundations. In addition, two of the tennis courts will be striped so they can be used for both tennis and pickleball.

Pickleball, which is sort of a cross between badminton and tennis, is considered the fastest growing recreational sport in the United States. The game played with a wiffle-like ball, paddles and net reportedly has about 36.5 million players, according to a report by the Association of Pickleball Professionals. Both the city of Dalton and Whitfield County have been adding pickleball courts to their recreational facilities.

The city of Dalton will receive $2,199,477.50 for Streetscape improvements to Pentz Street and Cuyler Street, as well as $2.2 million for improvements to Heritage Point Park.

“It’s always nice to get these grants,” said Mayor David Pennington. “We’ve had a lot of momentum over the last few years, rebuilding a lot of Dalton’s infrastructure, and this will help keep the momentum going.”

The project on Pentz Street and Cuyler Street is the final section of the Streetscape project developed in 2000.

Streetscape includes the green decorative street signs found in the rest of downtown. City Administrator Andrew Parker said streetscape also involves moving overhead utilities underground, the planting of trees and improvements to water and sewer if needed. The project has a total budget of some $3.75 million, so the city will provide a match of about $1.5 million to complete that project.

Pennington said the grant for Heritage Point Park will be used to replace the grass on the baseball/softball fields with turf.

“Those fields are well worn from all the use they get,” he said. “This is something that’s really needed.”

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