Ground broken at Jack Read

Published 12:37 am Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Work to revitalize the downtown area progressed another step when ground was broken for renovations scheduled at Jack Read Park.

Not only will the Downtown Revitalization work pave a number of streets that have been in dire need of a new surface, two parks will be renovated in the process. One of those parks is Jack Read and the other is the Shay Park.

The ground breaking ceremony at Jack Read Park that took place Monday morning is the culmination of three years worth of work. Former Council member Jerry Bounds said the hard work of Picayune Main Street and the former council have made the Downtown Revitalization project a reality. Picayune Main Street Manager Reba Beebe said she worked on securing the grant funds for about three years.

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Part of the work that will be conducted at the park will involve tearing down and rebuilding the pavilion. A couple of months ago vandals tore out the slats of the structure’s railings and punched holes in the walls.

Eileen Baker with Picayune Main Street said vandals also have damaged more than 15 light poles in the downtown area using rocks and BB guns. While the revitalization work will rebuild the damaged pavilion, there is no grant money to replace the broken light globes, which cost about $18 a piece, Baker said.

The pavilion at the park was built sometime in the late 1960s and the park was named after Jack Read who was a major contributor to Picayune, said Lynn Crosby Gammill.

Other work to take place at the park will include a new sidewalk that will double as a walking track, concrete spaces for the bi-weekly Farmer’s Market and asphalt parking that also can be used by patrons of the Farmer’s Market, Bounds said.

City Manager Harvey Miller said the $2.2 million grant will be used not only to repair the two parks but will be used to repair damaged sidewalks along East and West Canal Streets and to completely pave East Canal turning it into a new thoroughfare. He thanked Picayune Main Street for its work to secure the grant and former council member Leavern Guy for initiating the project. He also thanked the various volunteer organizations that have helped the city in various capacities.

“Without our volunteer groups, we wouldn’t be the town that we are,” Miller said.

Three members of the current administration also made appearances at the ground breaking, including Lynn Bumpers, Larry Breland and Wayne Gouguet. All three thanked the previous administration for its work in securing the grant funds for the project and Main Street for its efforts. Guy said he hopes the successes of the former administration will be built upon by the new administration to help the city continue to move forward.