VOL. 133 | NO. 78 | Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Puts $5 Million in Whitehaven Park Renovation
By Bill Dries
A Whitehaven park is getting a $5 million remake, including a $900,000 endowment fund to keep the new David Carnes Park ready for recreation.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield Tennessee, through its health foundation, announced Monday, April 16, its first undertaking in the recreation initiative will be the wooded city park on East Shelby Drive west of Elvis Presley Boulevard.
Consultants with Game Time and Cunningham Recreation are seeking input from area residents until July. Residents have called for more parking, better trails and restrooms in the park for years.
Construction is expected to begin in July with an opening by next spring, depending on the logistics, coordination with the city and other variables like weather.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland told a room about 100 residents gathered at Greater Faith Tabernacle church, bordering the park, that he has heard their continued calls for improvements to the park.
“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “This will completely revitalize this park in your neighborhood. I want you to understand, this isn’t just a new swing set or a load of mulch. This is more than $5 million.”
City Council member Patrice Robinson had her own suggestions for consultants.
“This park is where I used to walk,” she said. “I don’t walk there anymore. There’s nowhere to park. Did you hear that? There is nowhere to park.”
The consultants have included playgrounds for different age groups, trails, an obstacle course, a 40-yard dash track with digital timers, an adult fitness area, basketball courts, soccer and lacrosse fields as well as baseball diamonds with turf and not grass as well as a dog park and a splash pad in their tentative plan. That is based on early input.
The stand of trees in the center of the park will remain, the consultants said, and could include a play area with a simulated ant mound and fiberglass logs for children to play on.
The emphasis of the Blue Cross Blue Shield “Health Places” program is on recreation said Memphis market president Kevin Woods.
“This is our first major project,” he said. “We visited seven possible locations. But there was something that kept bringing us back to David Carnes Park. There was something about the community. We looked at the homes here.”