First pitch

Former County Judge-Executive George Lusby throws out the first pitch Saturday at the grand opening of Great Crossing Park.

The sounds of bats hitting softballs and wiffleballs filled the air at Great Crossing Park as it officially opened to the public Saturday.

And no one could ask for a better day as the ribbon was cut and youth were running the basepaths for the first time.

“Stop and take a look around this park. We are blessed at how beautiful a place this is,” said Scott County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington. “We are blessed to have this in our community. This park will provide a gathering place for family and friends to get away and relax. It will be a place they can get away from the hustle and bustle and watch a ballgame, play tennis, walk along the creek or sit under a tree and read a book.

“The thing I like the most is you don’t have to buy a ticket. You don’t have to get on StubHub or Ticketmaster or pay a fee to get in. It’s for everyone and anyone.”

The park features four baseball/softball fields, two dog parks, tennis courts and a walking trail along the creek. The ballfields were christened as members of the Scott County Softball Club and Scott County Youth Baseball played wiffleball after former County Judge-Executive George Lusby threw out a first pitch.

Lusby was the county leader that started the vision of the park. About 15 years ago, former Scott County Schools Superintendent Dallas Blankenship came to Lusby and said the district needed to purchase land for a new high school, he said. The land they were looking at was 227 acres, but because of state law, the school district could only purchase 100 acres. He asked if the county would be ready to buy the other 127 acres.

“I went to the fiscal court and asked. (Georgetown Mayor) Tom (Prather) was on the fiscal court. We bought it, but we didn’t bond it. We needed to build a road and paid cash with that,” Lusby said. “The big issue came when the superintendent said they were ready to build the high school and we decided it was time to build the park.”

The total cost was $9 million and about $13 million invested in the park, he said.

“We’ve got about another 50-60 acres to add on. We need a playground and more ballfields,” Lusby said. “But it is growing. This park will be here for 100 yeas for people to enjoy.”

After throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, Lusby basked in the finished product of what started as a dream and a vision.

“This is one of the greatest things in Scott County for the people in Scott County,” he said. “This is a place for all ages.”

The park is the perfect bridge between the past and future, Prather said.

“This is the perfect symbolism that connects Judge Lusby’s court to the current fiscal court to the future. I couldn’t be more proud of it.”

Covington said parks make a statement about a community.

“The truth is parks are a reflection of the quality of life in a community,” Covington said. “Just like water, sewer and public safety are considered essential public services, parks are vital to maintaining the quality of life. They help a healthy and active lifestyle for families and youth and contributing to the economic and environmental well-being in a community.”

He shared a quote that captured what a park means to a community.

“A society grows great when men and women plant trees whose shade they may never sit in. Let’s keep planting trees and building parks whenever we can and I hope you join me in sitting in the shade from time to time and enjoy the park for years to come.”

Steve McClain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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