By Ginger Jarvis
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Madison’s city commissioners got a close look at the plan for a proposed park at their regular meeting on September 13. The park, enclosed by Martin Luther King Boulevard, Third Street, Bunker Street and Miller Street, would occupy a presently- vacant lot.
Health Department Director Kim Barnhill presented the plan to the commissioners. “Some people may wonder what this has to do with health,” she said. “But if we can get children out to play and adults out to walk instead of sitting on the sofa in the house, then we will have a healthier community. This absolutely is public health.”
The plan as presented features a walkway diagonally across the lot, with benches, a playground, a picnic area with a grill, and tables with seating. A walking trail runs around the perimeter. The oak tree canopy and large pecan tree that are there now will be preserved as part of the park.
Barnhill and Public Works Supervisor Chuck Hitchcock explained that the “bowl” in the center of the lot will be partially filled with dirt, and enhanced by three swales to direct water away from the playground and tables. Hitchcock said that the connected culverts will be covered by iron grates to prevent small children from getting into the drains.
Barnhill refuted some beliefs that residents in the surrounding community did not want a park there. “I did a survey of 77 homes in that area, and 76 of them are very much in favor of the park,” she said. She added that she hopes to convince local businesses to contribute tables, benches, and playground equipment. She also said that she believes the people in nearby houses will call to report any suspicious activity in the park.
After some discussion, Barnhill agreed to begin working with the Suwannee River Water Management District to move fill dirt. “I will keep you up to date on the project,” she told the board.
The city earlier purchased the lot with grant funds from the Florida Department of Parks and Recreation.