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Needed improvements coming to South Park in St. Clairsville

Lanita Donaldson of St. Clairsville is part of the South Park Community Project Group, working with the city to renovate South Park. She points out the old basketball court, adding it is in need of improvement.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — City leaders and residents are turning their attention to South Park, located south of Clark Avenue, which has needed renovation for several years.

Recently, the city hosted an informational meeting to hear suggestions from the public. Safety and Service Director Jeremy Greenwood said close to 20 people attended the meeting.

“Just like anywhere in the city there’s stuff that might have been neglected at points and times,” he said. “We’re looking at what we can do. … We went over all the design ideas, things people would like to see in the park. There was some back and forth, then people came up and voted on the most items they would like to see there.”

Greenwood said area architect Gabe Hayes is volunteering his time and will produce potential designs. The city will look at costs and available grants.

The city will have some enthusiastic local assistance from the South Park Community Project Group, which intends to pursue projects and improvements in the park in conjunction with the city’s plans. They also made their voices heard at the informational meeting.

Bill Brooks and others helped to build the park more than 30 years ago, pulling stumps and otherwise preparing the ground for a park. Brooks, whose property adjoins the park, said many in the area still make use of it.

Brooks pointed out several areas for improvement, such as the need for a sign at the entrance.

However, the first improvement will be the basketball courts. Greenwood said this was the project that received the most votes.

New backboards are needed and the court is muddy after rainfall due to a nearby slope. Several trees also need to be taken out, and portable johns installed. Greenwood said there is also a nature walk nearby that could be incorporated into Central Park.

The South Park group would also like to move a fence to make room for a toddler park.

“We want not only to put some playground equipment here, we want to have activities for the kids all summer long,” Brooks said. “We’re gearing everything from toddlers to 13 or 14 year olds.”

Other improvements are in the works.

“We have two picnic tables being built, and a bench being built,” Brooks said. “We’re going to put the names of some of our prominent citizens on the bench.”

Brooks said enthusiasm is high.

“We’ve got people from all over this city being a part of this,” he said, adding that the park is city property and the group will be conscientious about working with St. Clairsville and securing the city’s approval for upgrades.

The group also prioritizes work involving children and youth. They have been in contact with churches, 4-H clubs and the Boy Scouts for improving the park. Brooks said the group intends to cultivate a sense of involvement and ownership in the youth.

“One of the main things that we’re concerned about is maintenance,” Greenwood said. “We’re not a huge city, but we do have a lot of area and facilities that we maintain, and we don’t have a lot of workers.”

Lanita Donaldson of St. Clairsville also lives near the park.

“I come down here a few times to work out. I grew up here, all my life, and this is a place where you come to get away from things. To relax. We used to have full court basketball games, and I miss those memories and I want them to keep on continuing for all of us. My children play down here. I used to have a youth group and we’d all come down here and play tag and have a lot of fun. … It’s something I want to see definitely prosper.”

The group is in the process of forming a bank account for donations to the park. Brooks said all money will be used on park upgrades.

“We will have accountability of money received and money spent,” Brooks said.

“We’re not in competition with the city’s project. We want to help them, but we want accountability with the money we raise. What they do with what they raise is up to them.”

“I think (the city and the South Park group) are going to work together,” Greenwood said.

The city can be reached at stclairsville.com. The municipal building number is 740-695-1324.

Anyone wishing to donate or work with the South Park Community Project may contact Brooks at 740-312-9363 or on Facebook.

Another meeting has not been scheduled.

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