YEAR IN REVIEW: Milton parks expand in 2012

Also sees another parks director

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MILTON, Ga. – After almost exactly a year, Milton’s Parks and Recreation Director John Rebar left the city in July. He was replaced by Jim Cregge as interim director.

Rebar, who came to Milton as its second parks and recreation director, arrived from Doral, Fla., a suburb of Miami. He said he is going back to the Miami-Dade area, specifically to Miami Gardens, Fla.

“It’s kind of like going home,” he said. “There is that personal factor.”

Along with going back near where he used to work, he said the role will be a good fit, professionally.

“The opportunity presented itself,” he said. “It’s a really good professional opportunity for me.”

Miami Gardens has a population of about 107,000 people and has only existed since 2003, when it was incorporated from Miami-Dade County. Rebar said it has a $6.4 million budget.

“It’s a real good opportunity for me in my career,” Rebar said.

Under Rebar’s helm, Milton saw many recreational programs expand, and the city completed the first draft of its Parks and Recreation Master Plan – a complete roadmap of what the city wants out of its parks and how to get there. Bell Memorial Park has expanded significantly.

About a month after Rebar's departure, Jim Cregge filled in the role.

Cregge, a familiar face to a number of Milton residents, has spent the last 17 years as a volunteer, board member and former president of the Hopewell Youth Association (HYA), the nonprofit group that schedules baseball activities at Bell Memorial Park.

Shortly after Cregge came aboard, it was announced Alpharetta and Milton will waive non-resident fees for families living in either city. This means an Alpharetta resident can play sports with Milton parks programs and not pay the non-resident fee, which may be as much as 75 percent higher than resident fees.

Such an action had been a long hope for Cregge.

"This allows Milton to provide an opportunity for our residents to have a less expensive way to play sports while our parks are growing, and then allows Alpharetta residents to use our parks without non-resident fees now," he said.

The city has also collected parcels of land surrounding Bell Park, expanding it to as much as 28 acres.

Bell has four baseball fields, pavilions, picnic areas, parking, concessions and a playground. It is also the home of the Hopewell Youth Association baseball program.

Friendship Community Park opened as the first new park in the city, between Northwestern Middle School and Crabapple Crossing Elementary School. The nearly 2-acre park has an abundance of green space for activities, as well as three picnic tables, a large pavilion, public walking trail and a half-court basketball.