Work starts on park

Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

October 31, 2013

Crews have started work on improvements to Calumet Park.

The pavilion in the park has been demolished and removed and a crew on Tuesday was repairing the roof to the concession stand.

When LaGrange City Council agreed to spend about $100,000 on park improvements in September, City Manager Tom Hall said he hoped the project would be completed over the winter months.

The park, off Union and Hines streets, was the scene of a suspected gang-related shooting earlier this summer where seven people were injured. Neighborhood volunteers already had approached the city about upgrading the facilities before the incident.

“We had made this a priority,” said Robert Tucker, who lives in the east side neighborhood and helped spearhead the project. “We do appreciate Mr. (Tom) Hall. He has been phenomenal.”

City leaders believe if the plans work at Calumet Park, improvements could be replicated in other city parks.

The plan calls for the old baseball field at the park to be turned into a walking trail and multipurpose green. The city also will rehab playground equipment, the picnic area and gazebo and the basketball court, and and seating and shaded areas.

“Things had fallen into disrepair,” Hall said. “We want to create a nice, usable space.”

When Troup County Parks and Recreation took over all parks in the county and consolidated many activities at new facilities, small neighborhood parks like Calumet were “left to languish,” Mayor Jeff Lukken said.

The centerpiece of the improvements, however, will be a splash pad and fountain area, large enough to accommodate about 40 children.

The project can be paid for with special-purpose, local-option sales tax money that had been set aside for neighborhood park revitalization. The city also has money from the sale of Cross Creek Apartments that must specifically be used for community projects such as this, Hall said.

The Rev. Michael Roland said the community wants to start a neighborhood watch program and is looking for block captains. Hall said the city also will post park hours, which will discourage loitering at times the park isn’t in use.

“The best is yet to come,” Roland said.