Residents show support for Bethel Park plan

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

Around 150 people turned out Thursday night to show support fora Bethel Park playground plan that has become a pet project forcity officials and numerous other supporters.

“Seeing the number of people here tonight, I’m confident thatwe’re not going to make this a year and a half or two yearproject,” said Mayor Bob Massengill while addressing the crowd.”We’re going to get this work done by working together.”

Thursday’s public hearing and community meeting were held toascertain that there were enough volunteers for the project to beput into action.

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Brookhaven Recreation Department Director Terry Reid said thegrant that would allow the city to pay nothing for park developmentcould be in jeopardy if there had not been enough volunteers to dothe work on the $100,000 project.

The hearing attracted so many attendees that the meeting, whichhad been scheduled to take place in the city boardroom, had to bemoved upstairs to the circuit courtroom in order to have enoughseating.

“I’m thrilled at the turnout,” Reid said. “We had standing roomonly, and people were crowded around outside because after a whilethere wasn’t even standing room.”

Ward Three Alderwoman Mary Wilson, who has somewhat spearheadedefforts to recruit volunteers for the project, said theparticipation was a real encouragement to her.

“I just appreciate everyone for coming out,” she said. “I’mreally glad about this, and I’m glad it’s about to start happening.I’m really looking forward to it.”

Massengill said the turnout at the meeting is an example of whatBrookhavenites can do if they just put their collective mind toit.

“This is important,” he said. “We have shown that this communityis interested in this project. There’s nothing we can’t do if wework together.”

Reid said the funds will pay to resurface and paint thebasketball courts, as well as replacing a pavilion on the propertyand put up a retaining fence.

Brenda Lacey of the Mississippi Development Authority said, inanswer to a question posed by the audience, bathrooms will notinitially be a part of the project, but that they could be a partof a phase two grant.

“In a year or so we’ll come back and look at it again,” shesaid. “If we have the money, y’all can potentially come back foranother grant.”

Officials said if the project goes according to plan, it couldbe finished by the end of the year. Reid said the next step is towait for paperwork to be finalized and the grant to beapproved.