Leaders from Tuscaloosa and the area's park and recreation association gathered at Sokol Park North to celebrate the completion of practical but needed upgrades to parking, traffic and drainage there.

The additions are the last of a two-phase, $6.6 million project to improve Sokol Park - Phase 1 added lighting and improved roads in and around the park last year.

This phase repaved existing parking lots located near both the community gardens and the Field of Dreams. It added a new traffic circle that leads to a large, brand-new parking lot located near the existing baseball fields in Sokol Park North, where parents had long had to park in the grass. Contractors also improved stormwater drainage which city leaders said will help during heavy rain events.

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(City of Tuscaloosa)
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"Drainage and parking lots don't necessarily grab a lot of headlines but they make a lot of difference," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said at the ribbon-cutting.

The $6.6 million upgrades were funded by the Elevate Tuscaloosa sales tax program, and have been supplemented by a $2.8 million project to add new lights to some of Sokol Park's ballfields which was jointly funded by the city and the Tuscaloosa County Commission.

"It could not look better, and we are excited," said Brian Davis, the President and CEO of the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority. "And parents, coming from where I used to work, parking on the grass was always the key here, but now we don't have to park on the grass. In addition to that, the drainage on the backside of the park which you don't see a lot of, the drainage is going to help this park tremendously."

Maddox also highlighted how much money raised by the Elevate Tuscaloosa tax program is going into recreational projects across the city.

"I decided to take a look at what we've done over the last 18 months and what we're about to do over the next 18 months in the city of Tuscaloosa," Maddox said.

"River District Park and Pedestrian Bridge, $18 million investment."

"Western Riverwalk, which is ongoing today and will be open sometime early next year, $11 million investment."

"Northern Riverwalk, a $5 million investment and Phase II now is starting engineering."

"Mcdonald Hughes, over $1 million in investment."

"Benjamin Barnes YMCA, which will break ground very soon, $10 million investment."

"Kaulton Park, $1.75 million investment"

"Tuscaloosa Tennis Center, $9.5 million investment"

"And Snow Hinton Park, which the city council just recently authorized, a $10.2 million investment."

"When we passed Elevate, we made a promise to invest in recreation," Maddox said. "We're in a season of rage and a season of doubt when it comes to government. I think we can take great pride here in Tuscaloosa that your leaders kept their promises."

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