Hobson City celebrates renovated park
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
May 26, 2013 | 5015 views |  0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Friends of Hobson City cut the ribbon on new park facilities Saturday afternoon. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Friends of Hobson City cut the ribbon on new park facilities Saturday afternoon. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
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“It makes me dizzy,” said Ay’Kaylm Gilbert as she pointed to her new favorite piece of playground equipment, an overhead spinning wheel resembling a mushroom. Seven-year-old Ay’Kaylm was among dozens of children testing out the new playground at what organizers were calling a “May Day” celebration at J.R. Striplin Park in Hobson City. There, residents celebrated the opening of the new facilities with an afternoon ribbon-cutting.

“This is a great day, a great day” said Eric Stringer, president of the Hobson City Community and Economic Development Corporation before partners cut the ribbon as children played behind them. “What you’re seeing is a great example of what can happen if you allow the good Lord to let you do his work.”

Held for about the past four years, Stringer said, the May Day event this year was timed perfectly for visitors to enjoy the park’s new features. The corporation has completed about $300,000 worth of work there, Stringer said, including the installation of the playground equipment, building the walking trail, adding garbage cans, re-roofing pavilions, covering a drainage ditch, renovating a pool house and demolition of the old municipal building.

But the work is far from finished. Up next on the corporation’s plan for the park is building a large pavilion that will be suitable for family reunions and similar gatherings, restroom facilities, and eventually a performance pavilion that will accommodate concerts and other activities.

“The long-range goal is having a complete park so it services a lot of needs,” said Bernard Snow, vice president of the corporation. He said the park improvements grew out of a commitment to improving health and wellness. The walking trail, he said, allows parents to exercise while their children play nearby.

The project, which began as simply playground improvement and grew into a larger project, has required a great deal of fundraising. Financing has been pulled together by a number of grants and private donations.

“Our efforts kept spiraling up,” he said. “The more we did, the more people noticed, the more opportunities we had to accomplish real things.”

While May Day, with its music and cookouts and raffles, offered a great day of family fun outdoors, Stringer said it was about much more.

“We’re trying to give the community hope, and we’re trying to show them that the strategies used to build the park are the same strategies we’ve got to use to develop the town as a whole—to at some point draw industry, to at some point build a tax base,” he said. “It has to be a strategic effort; it won’t just happen.”

But in the meantime, families can take advantage of the new, kid-approved facilities.

As she walked around, testing new equipment and explaining its merits, Ay’Kaylm said the new playground is a good place to play. “When the kids come,” she said, “it makes them happy.”

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.
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