Pursuing City Park Upgrades

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Brookhaven has applied for a grant toreplace the City Park playground, but the city needs the support oflocal residents to seal the deal, said Recreation DepartmentDirector Terry Reid.

    A public meeting will be held Thursday at Mt. Wade Baptist Churchat 749 North Jackson St. to discuss the grant. Attendance at themeeting will partially determine whether the city receives thefunding.

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    “If there’s only five people there, it won’t look good,” Reidsaid.

    The Mississippi Development Authority has offered the grant, whichwould provide $80,000 for equipment and requires the city to supply$20,000 in donations or volunteer time. An MDA representative willbe present at Thursday’s meeting to gauge community support for theproject.

    About 150 volunteers have committed to working on the project, saidReid. Those commitments and attendance at the public meeting willbe the factors considered by MDA in determining communitysupport.

    City Park, located on Hartman Street, receives the most traffic ofthe city’s parks, Reid said, and he hopes to be able to upgrade itsplayground equipment and facilities.

    The new playground equipment provided by the grant would be placedin City Park adjacent to the spray park. The new equipment wouldreplace the park’s aging playground that has been there since the1970s.

    The old playground will be dismantled after the new one isinstalled.

    “It’s obsolete,” Reid said of the current playground equipment.

    If MDA awards the grant to Brookhaven, Reid hopes to start work onthe playground within 90 days and have it open for the public bythe summer.

    Once construction starts, the grant requires the playground to bebuilt in five days by volunteer labor. There are many volunteeropportunities available besides the actual physical labor of theconstruction, Reid emphasized.

    “You can cook for the workers, or watch the children of theworkers,” Reid said. “There are lots of opportunities. We need thisto be a community event.”

    Reid said anyone interested in volunteering in any capacity shouldcontact the mayor’s office, the city clerk’s office or therecreation department.

    Donations of equipment such as pea gravel will also beaccepted.

    MDA grants have already placed new playgrounds at Bicentennial andBethel parks. The grant the city is trying to procure for City Parkis the last of the grants for playground equipment MDA willgive.

     “The funding isn’t thereanymore,” Reid said.

    The Bicentennial Park equipment is 4 years old, the equipment atBethel 2 years old. The playground eyed for City Park would bebigger than at either Bicentennial or Bethel, featuring more slidesand other additions, Reid said.

    The construction of playground equipment at both parks elicited astrong community response with more than 100 volunteers working atboth sides. Reid hopes to repeat that with the City Park grant.

    Anyone who objects the installation of a new playground at CityPark will also have the opportunity to air any concerns atThursday’s public meeting.