VOL. 112 | NO. 120 | Friday, July 10, 1998
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
Collierville, Germantown and Arlington are expanding
their recreation options with grants recently awarded by
the state Department of Environment and Conservation
By STACEY PETSCHAUER
The Daily News
Three local municipalities are expanding parks, completing athletic facilities and developing nature trails and complexes with money recently awarded by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The TDEC decided in 1991 to emphasize the importance of the states parks, natural areas and wetlands by reaching communities at the local level.
As a result, the Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant Program was born, and this year $3.6 million has been awarded to 51 local parks projects across the state.
Shelby County has been given a share of the wealth, collecting $324,000 that will be matched at the local level for three parks and recreation projects.
Collierville received $136,000 from TDEC to expand W.C. Johnson Park and develop the Peterson Lake Nature Complex.
Germantown will use its $125,000 to complete the Bob Hailey Athletic Complex, and Arlington will develop a nature trail and construct an athletic park with its $63,000.
The grants indicate state officials understand it takes all levels of government federal, state and local to create a parks and recreation system, said Joyce Hoyle, director of recreation services for the TDEC.
"This program provides at the very least a pot of money that we can use to enhance the local efforts," she said.
"The money can be used for anything involved with parks and recreation land acquisition for parks, trails and greenways; development of the trails and greenways; or any sort of project involving the creation of a diverse park."
She said any municipal or county government, or combination thereof, can apply for the annual grants. This years recipients were chosen from 91 applications.
"We have a lot of competition," she said. "Our scoring system looks at how ready the applicants are for the project. We try to have a workshop before we send out applications and award grants so they will know what we look for in scoring."
She said grant criteria include demonstrating adequate up-front planning; a system for operation, maintenance and programming; and consideration of environmental issues.
"We want to be sure that what theyre wanting to do is what the citizens of the community want. Thats very key," she said.
"And, that theyve heard the pulse of the public. That really has an effect on the scoring. In most cases, when a community really cares about their application and works on meeting the criteria, they have a good chance of getting funded."
Grant announcements were made last week to city and county officials.
The city of Collierville is using its grant to build a boardwalk, nature trail, outdoor classroom and waterfowl observation area at the existing W.C. Johnson Park, said Greg Clark, director of parks, recreation and cultural arts.
The money also will go toward the first phase of the Peterson Lake Nature Center, he said.
Collierville will match the grant, and the overall cost of the project is about $270,000.
Clark said the grant will complete about one-third of the project.
"Eventually, were going to go all the way from W.C. Johnson Park to the Wolf River with this," he said. "Weve got the property right now, but this will not get us quite there. Well apply in years to come for additional grants to finish the project."
The first phase of the project tentatively is scheduled to be complete by May 2000, and Collierville hopes to have the entire complex finished within seven to 10 years. Clark said the town plans to apply for additional grants each year.
"This is really different from any project we have in our town. Its undeveloped land, and I think its going to be an asset to the department and to the community to have these recreational activities available. Were really excited about it," he said.
Germantown is using its portion of the funds for an endeavor with an athletic focus.
George Brogdon, assistant director of Germantown Parks and Recreation, said the grant will be used to complete the final phase of the Bob Hailey Athletic Complex, which includes constructing a parking area, concession and restroom facility for the existing athletic facility, along with more than 1,300 feet of walking trails and a 600-foot boardwalk.
He said the expansion is needed to provide parking and facilities for the people who use the complexs football and baseball fields.
"Right now when we have tournaments and games, theres not enough room to park," he said. "We have some wonderful athletic fields. Theyre well-lit and really nice facilities, and this will put the amenities needed additional parking, restrooms and concessions, things that people dont really look at but definitely need into the park."
He said the walking paths will connect the athletic fields and provide a recreation and education site for Germantown citizens.
"We have a lot of walkers out here," he said. "And, whats exciting about the boardwalk is it will go through a wetland, so it will give people the opportunity to experience a wetland firsthand and also to see some of the wildlife thats contained in it."
The boardwalk also will be used for environmental education programs offered through the citys Park Ranger Program. Brogdon said the city hopes to start the educational programs next spring.
The total cost of the project is about $300,000, which includes the grant and matching funds given by the city and an additional grant from Entel Technologies Inc.
Brogdon said this is Germantowns second consecutive year to include a third-party contributor in a parks and recreation project. Last year, Delta Beverage provided extra funding for a $175,000 project that added lights to the Bob Hailey Athletic Complexs ball fields.
"Bringing these people in enables the state money to go even further than it would on a 50/50 match," he said. "I think its a unique opportunity to provide our citizens with some first-rate facilities."
Arlington also plans to use its funding in a unique way.
Town Superintendent Don May said, in addition to building nature trails, the community plans to construct an athletic facility unlike any it has seen before.
"What were putting together is going to be really unique and different," he said. "It will be more than just nature trails and a sports complex."
He said the unique feature will be the design of the parks four-diamond baseball field.
"Most of the ball fields you see have a concession stand in the center, generally octagon-shaped with the announcers at the top and concessions, restrooms and an equipment room at the bottom. Some have a little canopy for shade, but for the most part, theyre nothing but concrete and bleachers, and its just a scorcher," he said.
He said the Arlington ball park will include a 120-foot octagon canopy that will cover nearly the entire area between the ball fields backstops.
"It will stop 25 to 30 feet from the backstop. Between the backstop and canopy will be solar screens, where the bleachers will sit. That way if a high pop-up goes up, spectators will be able to see the ball and watch the play," he said.
He said air-conditioned announcer booths will hang from the canopy at each field. Concession stands, restrooms, equipment rooms and a grand entryway will be located between the four fields.
In the center of the complex, the canopy will extend vertically and contain slow-moving louver fans for continual air flow. A toddler playground area will be located at the complexs center as well.
May said land has been cleared and earthwork to level the ball fields already has begun. The town hopes to have the facility open for next years baseball season.
In addition to the $63,000 grant and matching funds given by the town, a $10,000 local grant also has been awarded for the project. May said a number of individuals and companies in the community also have volunteered in-kind services or materials for the project.
"Weve got a real campaign going on," he said. "We have signs up announcing the project and were working on getting more contributions."
He said the towns long-term plan for the park includes the baseball fields and nature trails, along with four soccer fields and picnic and barbecue areas.
The Arlington project, along with the 50 other local parks projects being funded by this years grant, hopes to bring members of the community together to enjoy the natural amenities found in the area.
May said when the weather cools off, the town plans to set up tents for a barn-raising that will involve Arlington citizens.
"The whole community is working with us on this, doing whatever they can. We feel really good about that," he said.