Kids’ Kingdom gets city backing; maintenance yet to be decided

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 17, 2002

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday voted to support a new communityplayground project, but they held off on the city’s assumingmaintenance responsibility until the project is completed.

The request from Dr. Don Doty for the city to take overmaintenance of the Kids Kingdom playground was among a variety oftopics during Tuesday’s meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen.Doty said playground supporters have received approximately $60,000to $70,000 of the minimum $75,000 needed for the playground, and 10acres of land off Industrial Park Road has been donated for theproject.

“We’re very excited about all the donations we’ve had,” Dotysaid.

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Doty said playground supporters hope to collect $100,000, whichwould allow for the creation of a walking trail, restrooms andother attractions. The playground is scheduled to be built byvolunteers during a five-day period in April.

“It’s going to be a big asset for the city to get, and I thinkeveryone’s excited about the city getting it,” Doty said.

After speaking with Recreation Department Director Hansel King,Doty said park maintenance and trash pick up could be absorbed inthe department’s regular operating budget. He added that a Friendsof the Park organization would be involved in playground equipmentmaintenance and organizers were considering a “paperless” bathroomin which park users would bring their own toiletries.

Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates said the Kids Kingdom idea was greatand really needed. He indicated the new park would be a goodaddition to current city parks.

“The parks we have are small, and it’s kind of hard to keep themup,” said Bates, adding that the city is still considering acommunity swimming pool and the playground could work well withthose plans.

Ward 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson applauded theplayground effort and the community’s coming together to build it.He especially liked the idea that the effort was focused on youngpeople.

“We’re on the right track on that,” Wilson said.

While aldermen were supportive, City Attorney Joe Fernaldadvised it would be premature to accept maintenance responsibilityuntil the playground is built. Following his comments, aldermenapproved a resolution in support of the project.

“We need to wait until it’s built first,” Fernald said.


In an unrelated recreation matter, Wilson raised questions aboutthe city residency of a member of the Brookhaven Park Commission.He said he had been told a member of the commission no longer livesin the city.

“If he lives outside the city, he ought to be removed,” Wilsonsaid.

Neither Wilson nor other aldermen identified the commissionmember in question last night. However, afterward, aldermenconfirmed the member was long-time chairman Roland Wall.

Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner, who served on the parkscommission before being elected aldermen, said Wall is maintaininga home in the city and receives his homestead exemption credithere. He indicated Wall is making use of some relatives’ propertyin the Jackson area.

“He’s a legal citizen of Brookhaven right now,” Bumgarner said.”He hasn’t moved, but he’s not here as much as he used to be.”

Citing another instance where a person was removed from a cityboard because of residency issues, Wilson persisted that Wallshould be taken off the parks commission. Bumgarner agreed to speakto Wall about the situation.

“How many nights a week has he got to stay here?” Bumgarnerasked Wilson as the discussion came to a close.


Also Tuesday, aldermen agreed to proceed with plans to develop anew hard surface road to service the EPCO facility that recentlylocated in the industrial park. Earlier, city officials built atemporary road to the site, but chamber of commerce ExecutiveVice-President Chandler Russ said the company is beginningoperation.

“They are, for the most part, complete,” Russ said aboutconstruction work.

Funds to build the road will come from a $137,000 state grantthe city received. Russ also requested the city engineer developplans to improve a sewer line connected with the project.

Both requests were approved by the board.


Racial concerns entered into discussions Tuesday as aldermentalked about the city seeking a HOME grant to repair or rebuilddilapidated homes.

“How many white houses have we built?” asked Mayor Bill Godboldafter Bates and Wilson revisited the grant issue several times lastnight.

The aldermen were asking that the city look into trying to get a$350,000 grant, which is expected to address housing needs for sixhomes. Homes that would get repairs would be determined during theapplication process that happens in March.

The cost for a grant writer to assist the city is $5,000,regardless of whether a grant is received, or $35,000, which wouldcome from grant funds is one is received.

Bates and Wilson denied racial motivations, but Godbold saidthey make other topics the board addresses into black and whiteissues.

The city has received HOME grants in the past, and Ward 5Alderman Tom Smith said the remodeling work done was a “waste ofmoney.” During past discussions, city officials have citedcontractor problems associated with the grant work.

Bates said the focus now is not on remodeling but building newhomes.

“If it’s bad, they’ll tear it down and build a new one,” Batessaid. “It’s better for everybody.”


The next board meeting on Feb. 5 could be a busy one foraldermen if requests for appearances come about.

Aldermen will ask the city’s annexation consultants to attendthe next meeting to discuss city expansion plans.

“Whatever we need to do, we need to hurry up with it,” Wilsonsaid.

Also, Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron suggested having wastedisposal contractors BFI and Waste Management make presentations tothe board. As the city’s solid waste collection service continuesto operate in a deficit situation, aldermen are looking foralternatives and Cameron said the board could listen to thecompanies’ proposals.

With plans for a community center apparently stalled, Wilsonsuggested the city give the designated land on Williams Street toHabitat for Humanity to assist in the organization’s home-buildingefforts. The alderman said a community center is needed, but hesupported Habitat.

Godbold cited future city needs in rejecting Wilson’ssuggestion.

“We’ll keep it,” the mayor said. “One of these days, we’re goingto need more cemetery space.”

Finally, aldermen agreed to allow Godbold to negotiate withstate officials for the city to sell nine acres of land near theplanned mental health crisis center on Brookman Drive Extension.State officials are seeking more land for the center and a specialboard meeting may be needed to approve the sale once negotiationsare finished, officials said.