City officially opens park at Madison, Wall streets for children under 7 to enjoy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Balloons were blowing in the wind and children occupied the equipment as the Wall Street and Madison Street park officially opened again on Saturday.

City officials were on hand to dedicate the park, which is geared toward 2- to 6-year-olds and is open only from daylight to dark.

One of main goals of the park is not only to let the children in the neighborhood have somewhere to play, but to keep the park safe and free from drugs and violence.

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Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the community needs to support and take care of the park, and she asked Bright Star Baptist Church to be one of the adopters of the park.

&uot;I ask the community to wrap its arms around this park,&uot; she said at the dedication.

Many in the community have already supported the park by their donations with more than 15 community businesses helping open the park.

But Saturday was the first day residents could come and show their support.

Kendrick Davis, 18, brought his brother and cousin to the opening Saturday, &uot;so (they) can have fun, enjoy themselves,&uot; he said.

Their grandmother lives just on Maple Street and Davis said he would bring the little ones to the park to play.

His cousin, Ka’Jarious Davis, 4, played on the dinosaur rocker throughout the morning, his favorite part of the park besides the balloons on hand Saturday for the dedication.

The area was designated a park site by the city and was opened as a park until its closure in the early 1980s. Before, there were basketball goals on the site. Now, however, the park is fully equipped with a park bench, a bench swing, baby swings, children’s swings, a barney dinosaur and jumbo airplane rocker and a playground set complete with slides. All of the equipment is heavy duty, said Recreation Director Ralph Tedder and could withstand a hurricane if needed.

One of the obstacles to reopening the park in recent years, which has been a dream for eight years and a project in the works for four, was the damage to the building adjacent to the park property. The brick building, on the property Waste Management leases from the city, was destroyed when a tree fell on it years ago, destroying the roof and windows.

Waste Management contributed $10,000 to fix the property. Without the renovations to the building, the park would not have been possible, Tedder said.

, because of the liability issues.

&uot;We’re a neighbor to it,&uot; said Jim Funderburg, district manager for Waste Management, southwest Mississippi. &uot;Anything for the kids, we try to be a proponent of.&uot;