Urbancrest leaders plan for more community parks

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

Over the last decade, officials in the village of Urbancrest have made a concerted effort to build new amenities for its residents to enjoy. Not only did they approve funding to build a new park that is equipped with an outdoor shelter house for public celebrations on Augustus Drive, but they also assisted in the procurement of a massive new playground structure and an outdoor fitness zone at its most popular community destination, Martin Luther King Park.

According to village officials, these measures were taken because they all feel that having local parks within the community “is one of the best ways to bring people together.”

“Parks are important because they have a way of building connections,” said Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. “It allows all of these people, some of whom are strangers, to get together, to play, to talk, and to potentially build a new friendship because it is a safe and fun place to be.”

He said he has always been a strong believer in the power of parks, which is why he and members of the village council have planned for the creation of several new ones in the future.

For the past five year years, the village has been mulling the idea of installing a new play structure and a basketball court at Mayors Memorial Park on Augustus Drive and building two new parks within the community. The most ambitious park project that they have proposed for the future is the creation of a fun place for furry friends.

“It is our intention to bring a dog park to the village of Urbancrest,” said Barnes.

As of present, the initial plan calls for the dog park to be built on existing space that the village owns, possibly adjacent to an existing park. It would likely feature artificial turf for the safety of animals and the community, separate and enclosed spaces for large and small dogs, obstacle elements for agility training and a simple water feature for the playful pooches to cool off.

The three members of the village’s health and safety committee – Dr. Stefanie Day, Deborah Larkins-Jackson, and Lacy Wallace Jr. – have been tasked with researching costs and potential grant opportunities to build a new dog park. Upon gathering all of the information that is needed, they would then make a determination on the feasibility of building a destination for the canine companions in the village.

“This proposal is in the very initial phases of research and development, but it is our dream to have this type of space within our community,” said Day. “Of course, all of this will be dependent on whether there is public interest for a dog park and whether we could procure the funding through grants or other business partnerships to build this amenity for all the dog-lovers out there.”

She said the village has reached out to one company who builds dog parks about potential grant opportunities but reiterated it may be a long time before the establishment of a dog park within the village of Urbancrest can come to fruition.

“We have a lot of projects we are working on that are a bit of a higher priority for us,” she said, noting how the health and safety committee is researching funding opportunities to improve the village alleyways, “but we would be ecstatic if funding would somehow fall through so we could get this dog park build within the next couple years.”

The other proposed park project that the village is working on is the creation of a Veteran’s Memorial Park. Barnes said that he is not sure at this time where the park would be located or what – if any- amenities it might have, but he added that the village would like for this park to honor all of those who have served in the armed forces.

“I don’t know when we could do this, but I do know that it is needed,” said Barnes. “We have a lot of veterans in our community, we have a lot of families whose family members have served in our military, and we all need a place of quiet reflection to observe and honor their lives and their time in the service.”

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