Park projects get boost from grants and donations

Published 5:17 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
A $514,000 grant to build a pedestrian and bike path from Burnt Corn Creek Park to O'Bannon Park is just one phase of a major park renovation whose inspiration has been in the works for years.
And it's also just one aspect of recreation renovations throughout the city, which local leaders hope will boost the quality of life for the entire community and attract visitors at the same time.
Gordy's committee has been planning renovations to Burnt Corn Creek Park for months, holding a Brewton Songwriters Festival in February to raise funds for the plans. Committee members hope to have a stage with a pulldown movie screen for concerts and outdoor films in place by the next fundraiser.
Having the stage built will help keep up the momentum to finish the other plans for the park, which include a splashpad for children, a pergola, a skateboard park, a welcome center and a marina with a boat and bicycle rental.
When Gov. Bob Riley came to Brewton last year for meetings with leaders and a campaign fundraiser, Gordy took him to Burnt Corn Creek Park to explain the plans.
The state must have loved it, too. Brewton received notice last week that the city received a $514,000 transportation enhancement grant to pay for the walking path that will connect Burnt Corn Creek Park to O'Bannon Park. Work on the walking path could begin in about a year, Mayor Ted Jennings has said.
Beautification Board Chairman Joe Gordy - Carol's husband - has been working on plans for the walking path. He said organizers hope to extend the walking trail all the way to the Brewton YMCA, eventually.
The trail would follow the creek in some places, he said.
And Gordy hopes the city will market the park and walking trail as a destination for visitors - including birdwatchers.
Quality of Life committee members agree that the park can be a benefit not only for Brewton residents but also for visitors, especially with the space for festivals, concerts and outdoor movies, and with the potential for bike and canoe rentals.
In addition to the Songwriters Festival, the Quality of Life Committee has been soliciting money from businesses and individuals to help pay for the Burnt Corn Creek Park improvements. Businesses might also want to consider in-kind donations of building materials or equipment, Carol Gordy said.
Meanwhile, other recreation plans are under way in Brewton. The Beautification Committee has been developing landscape plans for Brewton City Park, next to the courthouse, thanks to a generous but anonymous donation.
Those plans call for a new clock tower, gazebo and fountain, Joe Gordy said.
And the Brewton Area YMCA - long considered a jewel for the city's quality of life - has undertaken a $500,000 capital campaign to update equipment, grounds and facility furnishings as well as heating and cooling.