GARLAND — For several months, town officials have been laying the groundwork for a new park in downtown. Now, residents are beginning to see a little more than just a sign.
During a Tuesday meeting, Commissioner Judy Smith presented an update regarding the Curtis D. Cain Memorial Park. The first piece of playground was recently installed and more will be out later in the week.
“It was very exciting to see it go up,” Smith said.
The 1.39 acres of property on South Bladen Avenue, near the post office, was donated by Connie Cain Rackley and named after her father — a former commissioner and business entrepreneur. Deno McLamb, a safety, compliance and construction official for Sampson County Schools, assisted Smith with the tentative drawing for the park. He is also a certified playground equipment inspector.
“That’s the park that the public will see, but there’s been a lot of underlying processes that had to take place,” Smith said about the equipment.
Some of the previous work in the park included installation of lights with the assistance of Duke Energy and the installation of a sprinkler system.
“It really looks nice riding through town and seeing that vacant lot lit up back there,” she said.
Last year, commissioners agreed to renovate abandoned equipment left over when Head Start left Garland. Smith said many steps were involved with the renovation process.
“This is what the town of Garland has been able to do within its existing budget,” Smith said. “They’ve been able to take that existing equipment, restore it and relocate it,” Smith said.
The estimated cost of the project is between $10,000 and $12,000. Smith said there’s a possibility of receiving assistance to help add more amenities in the future. Donations may also be submitted by individuals, businesses and organizations after a nonprofit status is set up for the park, which is in the works.
“We’re working on it and it has been a work in progress,” Smith said.
An official public opening is not set, but Smith said summer is the targeted time frame.
“I’m hoping to open it up by June,” she said about the first phase of the park, which includes equipment such as a swing set.
Some of the long-range plans include a basketball court, picnic area, walking trail and more equipment for children.
“It may be two or three years in the making because we have to raise funds for it,” she said. “Each year, the town of Garland is going to try to put some money in our budget. It’s never going to be enough to get things we want done without fundraising.”
Some of the priorities of the town include establishing a police force and other infrastructure needs such as roads.
“We have so many issues and we want to give outlets to the community and youths,” Smith said. “But there’s so many pressing needs that we have to spend a great deal of money.”
But Smith reiterated that the community will have a new park in Garland, thanks to the work of town leaders and others.
“There is a lot of effort and a lot of behind-the-scenes work that really happens,” Smith said. “We are excited that the public can finally begin to a glimpse of the work that’s been taking place for months.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.