TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – As kids played basketball, Tupelo city leaders, and Park Hill neighborhood residents gathered for a dedication and celebration.
“Today is a dream that has come true in the community,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Nettie Davis.
For years, Davis lobbied for renovations at the 22 acre park. The $850,000 project has given new life to the historic park, adding a pavilion, playground equipment, a walking track, amphitheater and other amenities.
“We have played semi pro baseball games here, other activities but it wasn’t always that inviting, it just didn’t attract folks now with the parking lots, lighting, new trees and sidewalks it opens it up and invites people in,” said Don Lewis, Director of Tupelo Parks and Recreation.
This neighborhood improvement project has one more phase before it’s complete. A sidewalk will be constructed, where I am standing that will connect the park to downtown.
“If it’s your lunch hour or you want to walk to downtown, to and from, get to the bank , shopping or whatever, we have a opportunity now to have downtown Tupelo its own central park,” said Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
Community leaders say the upgrades will have a positive impact on one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
“We have young people gathering people, at least once, or every two months, walking, now we can come out here Gumtree Park and walk in the beautiful park,” said Gerald Patterson, Pastor of Word of Faith Deliverance Ministries .
“We want to see everybody out here enjoying the pavement, walking on it, taking their time to see how much work and time has gone into this. It’s going to be a grateful moment in the lives of those who will take advantage of it,” said Rev. Gloria McKinney, of St. Paul United Methodist Church, which sits across the street from the park.
For years, Gumtree Park was one of the most popular gathering places, now, it’s also one of the prettiest.