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Playground prospects look good

Following a public meeting Thursday night,city officials can now only wait for the final word from theMississippi Development Authority on whether Brookhaven willreceive a grant to put a new playground in City Park.

    Those city officials indicated optimism about the outcome.

    “I just don’t foresee us not getting it,” said Parks and RecreationDepartment Director Terry Reid.

    MDA representative Brenda Lacey attended Thursday’s meeting at Mt.Wade Baptist Church and offered encouragement about the city’sprospects, pledging to report a good turnout back to MDA. Anestimated 70 people attended the meeting.

    Public interest in the new park and volunteer willingness toparticipate will determine whether MDA awards the grant toBrookhaven.

    The city previously received similar grants twice before, puttingnew playgrounds in Bicentennial and Bethel parks. The grantBrookhaven has currently applied for is the last playground grantMDA will offer.

    This final grant involves a little more money. Rather than the$80,000 of previous awards, the city will receive $100,000.

    The city will still be required to contribute $20,000 in volunteerlabor and donations.

    Reid said when receiving the grant previously, MDA has typicallygiven him final approval within about a week of the publicmeeting.

    After MDA awards the grant, bids must be held for the equipment andsome paperwork completed. However, Reid hopes to have theplayground open by the summer.

    Reid said the public meeting’s attendance wasn’t as strong aspublic meetings for previous parks, but Lacey seemed pleased.

    Members of the public asked few questions at the meeting.

    One woman who identified herself as a resident near City Parkvoiced concerns about people in the Hartman Street park after dark.All parks close as dusk, Reid said.

    Police Chief Pap Henderson said he has not received recentcomplaints about the park.

    MDA calls the grant a community self-help program because communityvolunteers actually erect the playground equipment MDA paysfor.

    The project still needs more volunteers to participate, Reid said.Local residents can indicate willingness to volunteer by contactingthe mayor’s office, the city clerk’s office or the RecreationDepartment.

    “We’ve always had good success with them,” Reid said of previousvolunteer efforts.

    Volunteers can participate in a number of ways from, from helpingbuild the playground structure to cooking and bringing food forother volunteers. Donations of equipment and supplies will also beaccepted.

    The playground at City Park has been there since the 1970s andwould be torn down after the installation of the new one.

    The new playground would be built next to the spray park.

    “The kids can get hot playing on the playground and then go to thespray park to cool down,” Reid said.