Work has officially begun on what Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman called “the new heart of our city,” a $3.7 million downtown park connecting with the Silver Comet Trail.

At a groundbreaking ceremony Saturday morning, Thurman said the park’s construction represents the latest step in a process that has been ongoing since 1991.

The new downtown park will feature a bicycle trailhead connecting to the Silver Comet Trail and the city’s Lucille and Wild Horse trails, a splash pad, a performance space, outdoor ping-pong tables and more.

Thurman said the park is projected to take about a year to complete.

The Silver Comet Trail brings over 300,000 people into the city per year, and the city’s hope is that those visitors will stick around to hang out in the new park — and spend some money in the downtown.

Powder Springs Downtown Development Authority Vice Chair Randy Hardy said the project aims to revitalize the city’s downtown while maintaining its small-town feel.

“We want Powder Springs to be … not just another historic town,” he said. “Historic towns are all around us, we hear about them all the time, but to be us, a city should honor and preserve the past while also laying the groundwork for the future.”

Chuck Kirk, president of the west Georgia chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, said the park’s trailhead also marks a step in his group’s goal of letting bikers get all across the county without having to share the road with cars.

“You’ll be able to ride from here in Powder Springs to Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, to Town Center Mall, to downtown Kennesaw, you can take this trailhead and get to the new Atlanta Green Belt, to Kennesaw State University’s Kennesaw and Marietta campuses,” he said. “You’re going to be able to go to the new Atlanta United training project, to the Atlanta Braves stadium, all that will be accessible from right here in Powder Springs by bicycle.”