WILLIAMSON — Williamson Parks and Recreation has begun making improvements to one of the city’s parks.
Robert Alexander Park, located on Vinson Street at the foot of Airport Mountain, was once a heavily used park featuring a basketball court and playground equipment.
The park hasn’t seen much use in recent years after the basketball court and playground equipment fell into disrepair, but Parks and Recreation Executive Director Jarrod Dean hopes the Park Board can bring life back into the park and make it a community destination.
“We’re hoping to clean up an eyesore for this community that has been here a while now. It’s been a goal of the Park Board, and particularly President Dr. Steve Wilson, to get this property back in working conditions for the people up here,” Dean said. “We’re turning the old basketball court back into a green space. And what we’ll be able to do once we get some grass growing is bring our big movie screen up here and have some neighborhood movies, maybe have some cookouts up here, and just do some stuff for the kids in this community and continue to try to promote that community engagement.”
Dean said he received a donation for the beautification project from former Williamson Mayor Sam Kapouralas, who had named the park after Robert Alexander, one of the first black councilmen in the city.
Williamson City Councilman Sherrie Hairston-Brown, who represents Ward II where the park is located, said the basketball court area used to be well used but hasn’t seen much attention over the past 10 to 15 years.
“My brothers used to play here all the time and help keep it up,” Hairston-Brown said. “But in recent years, it fell in and hasn’t been used, and I’ve tried every form and fashion to get this space fixed up, but I haven’t been able to do so. So I think this will be great to use the area for this.”
Hairston-Brown, who also represents the city council as a member of the Park Board, said that she had the playground equipment moved in recent years and replaced it with new picnic tables and a gazebo from money donated by the Mingo County Commission so that people and groups from area churches could use the space to host events.
“In polling the residents of the Alexander Park neighborhood we came to realize that what they would prefer to have was a new green space,” said Wilson, who has served as the president of the Park Board since late 2018. “There were multiple reasons that they felt this way, but the Park Board listened and will now be creating a space which will become a great facility for a church picnic, a cornhole tournament or any outdoor type event that the community might want to have post COVID-19.”
Dean said a long-term goal of the Park Board is to construct a covered shelter. He said local resident Jarrod Fletcher agreed to do the work to the park at a discounted rate.
“I think you’re seeing straight across the board that Parks and Recreation is making improvements to our properties, and we’re being aggressive with it,” Dean said. “We’re building partnerships with organizations. Williamson Health and Wellness Center is a big part of that and other folks as well. It’s time we turn things around and provide some things for people.”