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City, county parks attract residents, tourists

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By Calen McKinney

 

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While climbing higher and higher, she insists she isn't afraid of heights.

"I'm the queen of the world," she says, while atop the playground equipment at Robert L. and Bernice Miller Park.

Lydia Warren wasn't the only child who came to Miller Park for some fun on Tuesday afternoon. Despite 90-degree and higher temperatures, children still came to play on the slides, swings and monkey bars.

In addition to Green River Lake State Park, the community is home to two public parks that residents flock to each summer.

City and county governments pay to maintain Miller Park and Veterans Memorial Park, respectively.

While the cost to maintain the parks doesn't end when summer turns to fall, the summer is the peak time residents and visitors come to the parks for picnics, ballgames and some fun on the playground.

The city has earmarked $368,800 to maintain Miller Park this fiscal year, City Clerk Cary Noe said. Bill Brewer is park director and has a crew of six employees to help him keep the park looking good.

Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said those in charge of Miller Park take great pride in keeping in clean and accessible to the public. Young said city workers tend to the park every day, whether it's cleaning, mowing or landscaping.

There have been many improvements made at Miller Park in the past few years, from painting to installing new bleachers and bridges.

"We want it to look good," he said. "I think we've probably invested quite a bit more money than other communities do."

Though there really is no way to tell how many people come to Miller Park, Young said, people use the park at all hours, whether its to jog on the new sidewalks, play on the ball fields or tennis courts or swim in the city's pool. In the past few years, the city has spent about $200,000 for improvements to the tennis courts and pool alone. Young said a team of city workers gathers to discuss projects at the park to make sure they are done well.

Young said people also enjoy the gazebo at the park, and it has been the sight of many weddings and photo opportunities.

Though the long-range plan is to build a new sports complex near Amazon, Young said, Miller Park will always be well maintained for residents to enjoy.

Brewer said he and his workers not only maintain Miller Park, they also mow many areas around the city and take care of flowers around town, to name just a few of their duties.

Those who coach the teams that play at Miller Park typically take care of the fields, though Brewer said he and his workers take care of the mowing. Cleaning, Brewer said, takes a lot of time each day.

Brewer also takes care of the upkeep for the horseshoe pits, corn hole area and the skateboard park.

"There's people in the park all day, every day," he said.

Many people come from other communities to the park, Brewer said, including school groups for field trips.

"Especially if they come here," he said, "it must be a pretty good park."

A few miles away at Veterans Memorial Park, there is new playground equipment for children, installed just last year.

County Treasurer Melissa Williams said $40,000 has been earmarked in the 2014-2015 county budget to pay for utilities at VMP.

The county has, for the last six years, contracted with Campbellsville Baptist Church to operate the park. Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said the contract with CBC has worked well.

The county pays for utilities and trash pickup and Taylor County Detention Center inmates mow the park.

In previous years, Williams said, the budgeted amount hasn't been enough to cover the costs at the park. If that happens this year, money from the county's reserve will be used to help pay the bills.

Rogers said it's rare for a community to have both a city and county park. While Miller Park attracts many people to the area, VMP does too.

"There's a lot of people that come from other counties to use the pavilion," Rogers said.

Justin McDonald, activities pastor at CBC, said the contract with the county has created a way for the church to be present in the community and give back.

"You don't see a lot of local governments working with local churches," he said.

McDonald said summer leagues are in full swing at VMP, and participation is up. Some of the buildings at the park are getting a bit of age on them, he said, but the park is in good shape otherwise.

"I know it's in better shape than when we first got it," he said.

The new playground equipment has been a hit with children, McDonald said.

CBC officials take care of most of the field maintenance, he said, though the county has pitched in from time to time.

Though there's no official way to keep track of attendance numbers, McDonald estimates that from 500 to 1,000 people come to VMP each week.

"We're having a good summer," he said.

After this summer, McDonald said, the church's three-year agreement with the county will lapse. He said church officials will meet to discuss whether they want to continue operating the park.

"It's been a good thing that we've done," he said. "We've really created a good community of people out there."