An Alexandria man’s dream of refurbishing a small city park there for families to enjoy has come true.
Ricky Harris, a resident of the town, received permission from the Alexandria Mayor and Aldermen late last summer to begin work in clearing the property of overgrowth and to call on volunteers to help revitalize the five acre park. Although some work remains to be done, a rededication and ribbon cutting were held Saturday for the Alexandria City Park, located just off the public square between the Old Osborne Grocery store building and the fairgrounds.
“It’s been a long time coming. Alexandria needed this park,” said Harris. “This is a place where families can come together now and enjoy. Hopefully we can start having community projects or get-togethers here,” he said.
State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver was among those on hand for the rededication and she brought Tennessee and United States flags which can be flown at the park. She also presented a Tennessee Senate proclamation honoring the park in its rededication and commending the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to revitalizing the park. The proclamation is signed by State Senator Mae Beavers, State Representatives Mark Pody and Terri Lynn Weaver, and by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, speaker of the State Senate.
Chamber Director Suzanne Williams was part of the ribbon cutting and presented a “Chamber Community Improvement Award”.
Members of the Boy Scout Troop #347 joined in the commemoration.
“Its just amazing what motivated volunteers can do. They single handedly came out here. The park was a jungle and way overgrown and neglected. But with friends he (Harris) brought in, hundreds of hours of community time has been spent here. They all brought their own tractors. It was a lot of work but it has really turned out nice,” said Alexandria Mayor Bennett Armstrong.
Harris said plans are to add basketball goals and a walking trail to the park. “We have the park completely clear now. We’ve got nine picnic tables that have already been put in. Ten more will be going in within the next few weeks. The walking trail will be the next project. Basketball goals will also be going up soon,” said Harris.
The park, established in the 1970s under the federal Model Cities Program, originally sported a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, and six horseshoe pits, but over the years due to neglect and vandalism the park deteriorated and overgrowth overtook it.
Harris gave a special thanks to all the volunteers including Mayor Armstrong and Lee Plummer and to local businesses Wilson Bank & Trust, Liberty State Bank, Alexandria Auto Parts, Dr. Wesley Suddarth, and others and to DTC Communications for their work and for donating the picnic tables.
The proclamation states:
“Whereas, it is fitting that the members of this legislative body should recognize our parks on the national, state, and local level and their natural, cultural, and historic heritage, providing opportunities for discovery; and
Whereas, one such park is Alexandria City Park, which will be rededicated in a special ceremony on April 30, 2016; and
Whereas, Alexandria City Park was founded in the 1970s when DeKalb County entered the Model Cities program; the park originally contained a volleyball court, tennis court, softball field, six horseshoe pits, and two picnic shelters; and
Whereas, the Town of Alexandria maintained the park until funds were no longer available and the park succumbed to vandalization; and
Whereas, Ricky Harris presented the idea of rejuvenating Alexandria City Park to the mayor and aldermen in August, 2015 and Mr. Harris was named the project coordinator; and
Whereas, Mr. Harris and his family led eleven volunteers of all ages and walks of life to begin the renovation project; local citizens donated a total of $1,600 to aid in the renovation and several volunteers brought their own tools to aid them in accomplishing their tasks, which included the installation of a flagpole and ten tables that had been purchased by six companies and two individuals; and
Whereas, four tractor owners moved dirt and piled up cut trees, completing more than 100 hours in service to their community; employees of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative contributed a chipper and shredder and eight hours of labor; and a crew from Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation repaired two nonworking lights; and
Whereas, due to the hard work and determination of the good people of Alexandria, Alexandria City Park will once more serve as a gathering place for the community, and their efforts should be recognized; and now, therefore,
I, Ron Ramsey, Speaker of the Senate of the One Hundred Ninth General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, at the request of and in conjunction with Senator Mae Beavers, Representative Terri Lynn Weaver, and Representative Mark Pody, do hereby proclaim that we honor Alexandria City Park on its rededication, commend the volunteers for their hard work and commitment to their community, and offer our best wishes for many years of continued success.
Proclaimed in Nashville, Tennessee, on this the 26th day of April 2016.”