CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
GROUND BROKEN FOR $1M PARK PROJECT
By Philip Moulden
Tupelo officials and citizen advisers broke ground Thursday for a $1 million project at Veterans Park that marks a major step toward developing a regional attraction in the city.
The project, which will constitute Phase II of city park development, will provide a four-field baseball/softball complex with parking, and the grading and draining work needed to prepare the rest of the 230-acre site for full development.
It will also fund the construction of two lakes.
The park area lies between Veterans Boulevard and Elvis Presley Drive north of East Main Street.
"I hope we're playing baseball and softball on those fields by May 1997," said city Parks and Recreation Director Ramie Ford. "That's a very attainable goal."
Phase II funding came from a $1.6 million bond issue that also provided for improvements at Ballard Park. Appropriations formerly designated for Elvis Presley Lake were diverted to repay the park bonds after the lake facility was closed.
Future phases call for creation of a "Museum Row" that would include the Tupelo Museum, the Children's Museum, a car museum, and a military museum with outdoor displays.
Park planners also envision an activities center, tennis complex, walking trails, nature areas, pavilions and picnic tables, a new playground, additional parking, and other amenities.
The first phase of park development, already complete at the southern end of the site, includes a small playground, a pavilion, restrooms and walking track.
"It's going to be not only a neighborhood park, but a regional park," Ford said.
The entire project will hopefully be completed by the year 2000, he said.
"Being able to complete grading and drainage now will be a tremendous step for the later work," Ford said. "We don't know what the costs will be (for later phases), but we'd really like to see it well toward completion in the next two or three years. Hopefully we'll be through by 2000. That would be great."
"It will be a great asset to the east side of our community," added Mayor Jack Marshall. "But also it will give us needed additional facilities to take the load off overcrowded Ballard Park.
"We see this potentially as the place to go in Tupelo, the pick of the city," he said.
In another ceremony Thursday, officials broke ground on a $600,000 sewer extension project in the Sweet Gum Lane area.
The project will provide sewer to about 50 homes in the area, which was included in the city's 1989 annexation. Project completion is scheduled for December.