New equipment coming to two Jacksonville parks

By Gary Scott on December 10, 2014 at 7:42am

During a Parks and Lakes Committee meeting prior to Monday night’s Jacksonville city council get-together, Parks and Lakes Superintendent Bruce Surratt announced  updates are to take place at Minnie Barr Park and East Park, formerly known as Kiwanis Park.

The cost to put the new equipment in is about $93-hundred, and Surratt says the money will come through a successful grant application with the Jacksonville Children’s Foundation. The city found out it had gotten the grant last week. He says the Parks and Lakes Department teamed up with the city NAACP for the grant.

“A lot of fun working with the ladies from the NAACP. We have bounced ideas off them, they’ve bounced ideas off us, and came up with a terrific program that’s really going to make a big impact,” says Surratt.

“The money that we spent there last year on the playground at Minnie Barr Park has already had a big impact, as far as more kids using the park, better facilities to play at. So, this is an addition that that makes us all very happy.”

Several members of the NAACP were at the meeting Monday night.

Specifically, Minnie Barr Park will see new benches, picnic tables, and a volleyball facility. East Park will get new playground equipment, barbeque grills, and fixed basketball courts.

Surratt says the Children’s Foundation will present the award on January 13th at the Community Park Center. He says the installation of the equipment will be done through a combination of volunteer labor and Parks and Lakes employees.

Also Monday night, plans were revealed to city council to renovate the existing shower houses at Lake Jacksonville.

While $75,000 was put in the 2014 budget for rehabilitation of those facilities, Surratt notes they’re over 40 years old.

“We’re thinking now that we need to bring some engineers in and have the place looked at. It may not be worth spending the money on; we may need to go ahead and start with an entirely-new facility and just do away with that one,” says Surratt.

“The facility we have now is so old, it’s just not really worth putting that money into, but we’re looking to make Lake Jacksonville a destination for folks around here.”

The department is also proceeding with plans to possibly put in a new concession stand, including a grill for food.

Surratt says the city will reach out to the campers to get their input.

“Over my many years there, people have said, ‘We’d like to have a Laundromat here. We’d like to have a fish-cleaning station here. We’d like to have a covered shelter that we can have a family picnic under here,’” he says.

“So we’re going to reach out to our camping public and ask them for information also.”

Surratt says the unknown factor for any improvement, of course, is money.