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DAR helps set a pattern for Statesboros passive parks
City park superintendent stretching budget with help from civic groups
W 101315 ROCKWELL PARK 01
Kendall McDowell, 3, far right, and sister Khaley, 5, play at the water's edge while enjoying an afternoon out with mom Teri McDowell and grandmother Janet Shadrick at Rockwell Park at Edgewood Acres Tuesday.

People now have a bench to sit on when they watch the ducks on the pond in Edgewood Acres, and Daughters of the American Revolution members have set an example for how civic groups could help the city of Statesboro carry out a master plan for Edgewood’s Rockwell Park and rejuvenate other parks.

“Over the past several years, the city manager has basically asked us to, instead of trying to put new parks in place, let’s work with what we have and basically fix them up,” said Robert Seamans, streets and parks superintendent for the city of Statesboro. “I took that as a challenge to rejuvenate some of our parks.”

Measuring about four and a half acres, nearly half of which is in the pond, Rockwell Park is between North Edgewood Drive and South Edgewood Drive. So it is often called Edgewood Park, and the city now uses both names.

About 50 people attended two meetings about the park held in the neighborhood last fall, Seamans said. At the first meeting, city staff and Statesboro Beautification Commission members listened to ideas and suggestions from neighborhood residents.

Residents asked that parking areas be designated for the park to prevent people from driving all over the grass. They also wanted new fixtures, such as picnic tables, benches, swings and trash cans, for a park that has been equipped with some “mismatched items” over the years, Seamans said.

At the second meeting, he and Beautification Commission chairman Henry Clay presented a plan, but with built-in flexibility.

The Rockwell Park plan calls for about eight new picnic tables, six or eight trash cans, six park swings and possibly six or eight benches, but the numbers can be adjusted, Seamans said. Based on the fixtures used downtown on East Main Street, these items made of heavy, black-painted metal are what city staff members now see as a design standard for Statesboro’s parks. The swings have a single seat, like a porch swing.

To answer a desire for some living color, and also to block cars from intruding, the plan calls for flower beds to be installed as a partial border. But plants will be chosen to avoid obscuring the view, said Seamans, who mentioned gardenias, roses and crepe myrtles.

Residents also wanted a walking path. A trail five feet wide will form a 1/3-mile loop. It is not part of the immediate Phase 1 plan but instead is in Phase 3.

 

Not all in city budget

From the plan shown to the neighborhood, Seamans estimated a total cost of about $70,000.

“However, we’re looking for ways to trim that a little bit,” he said. “The city this year has been gracious and gave us $15,000 to start Phase 1.”

That will include the two crushed-stone parking areas and some of the border plantings.

The city budget shows a$35,000 more allocated to the project in the Capital Improvements Program. However, the CIP items are funded over more than one year. Seamans said he hopes the remaining $35,000 of the earmarked $50,000 will be available in the next year or so.

“With that, now that we know what’s going out there, we can say, OK, we’re roughly $20,000 in need of help to put this park together, and that’s where these civic organizations such as the DAR come in and are very, very helpful in donating the benches,” Seamans said.

 

DAR’s donation

The Archibald Bulloch Chapter of the DAR spent roughly $1,500 for the bench and plaque, said Chapter Regent Martha M. Wells. As noted on the plaque, the chapter placed the bench to commemorate the 125th anniversary, which was Sunday, of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

For its anniversary, the NSDAR president general encouraged each chapter to undertake at least one major community service project. Almost all of the local chapter’s 83 members contributed.

They wanted to provide a park bench that would last for years in a place where they knew it would be used, Wells said. But the specific suggestion of Rockwell Park came from Seamans, who showed DAR members the renovation plan and pictures of the park.

“He was so convincing and so excited about Edgewood Park … that that seemed to be the perfect place,” Wells said, “and I’m very familiar with the park and know it’s a beautiful location. It has a beautiful pond, a fountain, people come to feed the ducks, and it’s just a pretty place … a place to be proud of.”

In addition to the bench, which is bolted to concrete, the city crew placed a park swing, two of the new square metal picnic tables and one of the new trashcans at the site. A temporary bulletin board at the park displays the master plan and pictures of the new and proposed features, including a footbridge.

 

Passive parks

Similarly, the city partnered with the Bulloch County Historical Society for improvements to Renaissance Park on West Jones Avenue, dedicated in May. Donations by civic groups could help complete the Rockwell Park project and improvements and other passive parks, Seamans said. The city has six such parks of varying sizes, and one, off Marvin Avenue, is completely undeveloped.

The late Alvin Rocker developed Edgewood Acres as a residential subdivision in the 1950s, and included the park space and pond, said Dr. Del Presley. Presley, the retired Georgia Southern University Museum director and professor of English known for his work in local history, is an Edgewood resident.

The name Rockwell comes from Rockwell Manufacturing, whose employees were early residents of the neighborhood, Presley said. The Edgewood Acres Neighborhood Association turned the park over to the city in the 1980s, said Seamans.

Presley attended the meetings on the park plans and likes the work that has been done.

“I think it’s a good example of how to do things properly,” Presley said. “You involve the community, the stakeholders as it were, in our neighborhoods. So we were there from the ground up, those of us who were interested, and we were very happy to work with the city on this.”

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.

 

 

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