STARKVILLE — South Montgomery residents are closer to having their first public park.
The Starkville Parks Commission recently accepted a donation of a 1.04-acre plot of land in an undeveloped section of Greenbriar subdivision on South Montgomery Street.
Harry Bell and Lynn Spruill donated the land, Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland said.
Spruill, city chief administrative officer, said the heavily populated area is in need of a public play space.
“There are no park spaces down South Montgomery, and a large contingent of population lives there,” Spruill said. “I’m just delighted the Parks Commission saw it had potential to offer something to the people in the area.”
Moreland said it could take several years to build a park because it’s impossible to forecast future development. But when the economy and housing market turn around, the city could see a trend in property owners donating land for parks.
“It’s already a trend throughout the country,” Moreland said. “We’re glad to get this land, and it will be an asset to the community. We’re always open for suggestions and have put out feelers for other areas where people might be willing to donate land.”
The Greenbriar property is a dead end near Canna Avenue and has a creek, Spruill said.
Moreland said another target area is off the Highway 25 bypass and Highway 182, near the neighborhood off Mockingbird Lane. He said he hasn’t spoken directly to developers of new subdivisions about setting aside land for parks but plans to do so.
“It’s a draw, especially with smaller parks,” Moreland said. “Nobody wants a sportsplex next to their house, but a small park with playground equipment and picnic areas, nobody really objects to that.”
Ideally, subdivision parks would be similar to Patriots Park, on Avenue of Patriots, adjacent to the Green Oaks neighborhood. Patriots Park has a covered picnic area with park equipment and a perimeter fence.
“We’d absolutely get residents’ input to have designs in play,” said Matthew Rye, director of Parks and Recreation.
Moreland said land donations can help expedite growth because Parks and Recreation could focus its resources on equipment and maintaining current play spaces around the city. The parks department receives a portion of the city’s 2 percent tax on food and beverages.
The donation is the latest news in the department’s efforts to create more plays paces throughout the city. In September, nonprofit group KaBOOM!, which helps create play spaces through the participation and leadership of communities, gave “Playful City USA” recognition to Starkville for its short- and long-term goals. Starkville is now eligible for KaBOOM! grants that range from $1,000 to $30,000.
The city recently struck a deal with Starkville School District to allow for public use of school playgrounds in exchange for upkeep and maintenance to the grounds by Parks and Recreation.