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Upgrades to Davidson County parks bring in more people, more money

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Morgan Surratt is bringing her family to the new splash pad at Southmont Park in Lexington for the second time.

"I'm 24 and lived here my whole entire life and never seen nothing like this," Surratt said.

The splash pad opened in June.

"It's usually packed every day," said Scott Hulin, athletic program manager for Davidson County.

It's one of the newest upgrades to the park which has had a major facelift within the past six months.

"There's a lot more here to do now than there was before,” Hulin said.

From the splash pad to a volleyball court, walking trail and upgrades to its basketball court, Southmont Park is one of six Davidson County parks to get major upgrades in the past year.

Hughes Park in Thomasville has new baseball fields, a new playground and batting cages.

Tournaments are held there almost every weekend.

"We have teams coming from Winston, Greensboro, High Point, just to play in those fields," Hulin said.

There's also a new walking trail at Lake Thom-A-Lex.

The improvements have cost nearly half a million dollars but are bringing in more people to the parks and money to the county, according to Hulin.

"They book up hotel rooms, they're burning gas, they're eating at local restaurants," he said.

From July 2015 to 2016, about 80,000 people visited Davidson County parks.

Since the upgrades, he says that number has jumped to about 300,000 visitors and generated $2.2 million for the county.

"That is a lot of money,” Hulin said.

Surratt says the improvements give her and other residents more reasons to stay closer to home to enjoy a day out with the family.

“It's great that they've done all this,” Surratt said. “It's enjoyable, even for a mom."

With all the extra people visiting the parks this year, Hulin says they've also had to bring on new staff.

They've hired five new part-time workers to help at different parks.