Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by Beachmom, Jan 10, 2007.
Is this project still a go? Do you happen to have a copy or a link to the article?
You can check the beach breeze website i'm sure and find the story, but yes it is still a go. We should have a very nice park by next year.
Yes- park on! I will try and get the full story from the Breeze to put on this thread!
From the 9/24 Beach Breeze
Spring Playing Planned for South Walton
By LEAH STRATMANN
Sometimes a great notion coupled with a great deal of patience results in something an entire community can use, enjoy, and be proud of. Take the case of a group of women, mothers all, who came up with the idea of trying to get a park in the south end of the county. According to Rhonda Cloutier, one of the forces of nature behind Mission Playpark, the idea was born when a post on the popular message board SoWal.com asked citizens to comment on what they would like to see in the community.
?I think we all came up with it at the same time. There was a post on SoWal asking for what people wanted to see in the area that wasn?t here. Many people relocated here from areas where public parks were commonplace. I thought the park was a big missing piece. You are not always at the beach. We were having to drive a long distance to find a park and by the time we packed the kids up to take them to the park and spent the time driving there and driving back, there was less time to play. A bunch of other people felt the same way and we started meeting to come up with a plan to make it happen.? The progress of the movement was all documented on SoWal.com.
Another of the participants, Jenny Dargavell, recalls the entire movement started in January 2007. ?We started meeting and called the group Mission Playpark. The group started out with more moms, but after the first year the group solidified into a core of Cathy Potter, Rhona Cloutier, Denise Leblanc-Bock, Lisa McBride, Allison Craft and myself. In June 2007 we brought our proposal to a meeting of the county commissioners and Commissioner Cindy Meadows approved getting a master plan completed using Helen McCall Park and including the 10 acres that had just been purchased and was hopefully going to be the site of the new play park. Grants were applied for and won, and in January 2008 public workshops were held to figure out what the public wanted in the re-design of the park. Our focus was primarily a playground and maybe a pool, but there were others representing football, baseball, and soccer groups, as well as skateboarders,? she said.
Cloutier recalls it was Cathy Potter who put the proposal in writing. In addition to appearing before the county officials, the group traveled to Tallahassee in search of funding. Potter said, ?In the end we got less money than we hoped for. The info we put together was for more than just a playground. We would like to get a swimming pool eventually, perhaps in Padgett Park, located near the high school and which could be used by a swim team. We are moving forward with the planning,? Potter said.
Dargavell said after the completion of the workshops, it seemed everything came to a screeching halt. ?We heard nothing,? she said. ?When Cecilia Jones was elected to the Board of County Commissioners, we asked her about the park and had several meetings with her. Nobody seemed to know what was going on and the funding seemed to have disappeared,? she recalled.
Jones said the funding did not disappear and even though the group heard nothing, forces were at work getting the necessary permits to build the park. ?Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish had been hired to oversee the project and he was working on getting the permits necessary to proceed. The money came from grant funds allocated to Helen McCall Park and the remainder from Parks and Recreation plat fees. We have $150,000 to work with and GameTime has been selected to supply the equipment,? she said.
GameTime uses a great deal of recycled material in the construction of the playground equipment, so the new park will be green on several levels.
The group of women provided Jones? office with a wish list of equipment after a field trip to Hammock Bay to look at the playground located there. Jones said the equipment they are buying is very similar to the equipment in Hammock Bay.
?We are going to have a spider climber, a rock climber, slides, swings, seesaws, and we plan to build a large pavilion with picnic tables. It is top of the line equipment made of heavy-duty material. I want to have it open by April 2010 so it will be ready for the next tourist season,? Jones observed. ?We have no parks in this area and we need more. It is one of my priorities,? she asserted.
The park will also have public restrooms and parking areas. Future plans and funds would be dedicated to the construction of a community center and perhaps a basketball court. Only about six of the 10 acres is available for use, as the remaining four acres are wetlands.
Both Cloutier and Potter said the amount of time it has taken thus far has aged their children beyond the age of those usually found on a playground, but this does not deter Cloutier?s enthusiasm. ?I?m looking forward to kids finally being able to enjoy this park,? Cloutier said. "I can?t wait to attend the grand opening. My kids will be there regardless of their age. I?m thankful there is such a hardworking dedicated group of parents who want us to have a place to go in south Walton.? Cloutier said she also wanted to acknowledge the help and support the group was given by Ronnie Bell and all the employees at the Parks and Recreation Department.
?We?ll be extremely fortunate to have it in south Walton. Cindy Meadows did so much to help us get this. I hope she will be there when it opens. We appreciate what Jones is doing too. I still believe it is going to be a huge benefit to this community to have our own park where people can go and meet. There are a lot of young families looking forward to it. It is very exciting and I?m proud to be a part of the group. Moms don?t give up,? Cloutier said. ?We will have the biggest picnic on that opening day and I hope that everybody takes part in this community effort.?
Leah Stratmann may be reached via email@example.com
Progress is being made and it's very exciting to see! Commissioner Cecelia Jones and her assistant, Jason, have been a huge help in getting this accomplished. Attached is a preliminary, proposed plan for the new playpark at Helen McCall. I thought it might give everyone a good idea as to the size and scope of the project. Note that it is "preliminary & proposed" so it is subject to revision.
We're working within a budget here and trying very hard to get the most bang for the buck. The big play structure is for kids 4-12 (with some parts more appropriate for the little ones), the small playstructure with shade is for the tots. There are a couple of see saws, various cars/planes for sitting in and rocking back a forth, a round thing to hang on and to go round, swings for tots and older, tire swing hung horizontally, tetherball, huge spider climb, pavilion with picnic tables, benches with backs.
Wow! It looks pretty great!
I was sure hoping the county park they built in Driftwood would be similar, but it didn't end up that way. The playground is big enough for about six 2-4 year olds, with 3 swings for bigger kids. There is a basketball court and lots of grassy space for running around in, but I was sure hoping for more of a playground.
I am still trying to figure this out. Why would the county build a public park all the way back in Driftwood, where a) nobody will find it or know about it and b) the Helen McCall park was first out of the gate according to our info, and it is still not built? It is not really a public park, IMO- it will be public for the few outside of the neighborhood that find out about it.
a) Because Driftwood wanted a "neighborhood park" and donated money for a portion of its cost - it included no public parking.
b) Ask Cindy Meadows - I think you will find she prioritized the work and reallocated funds for its work prior to leaving office.
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