Jim Taylor, vice chairman of Wellston Trees & Greens and a Warner Robins resident, talks about a special ceremony at Wellston Park and the work his group does.
Q: It’s said there’s nothing better than a plan that comes together — you and others celebrated a plan coming together at Wellston Park Aug. 9. What happened?
A: Last Thursday was a dedication and recognition ceremony for donated benches, picnic tables, the trails and other aspects of the park provided by sponsors and donors — plus, of the dog agility equipment in the dog park made possible by a $10,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Central Georgia. So really, we celebrated how far the effort has come and that basically we had a plan, we had a way to implement it and we found cooperative entities, public and private, that wanted to make it happen. And there’s still an opportunity for sponsorships, memorials, donations and volunteer work through Wellston Trees & Greens.
Q: Who built the park?
A: It’s a collaborative effort. It’s Wellston Trees & Greens, a host of volunteers and donors, Houston County public works, various developers and contractors, and the city of Warner Robins and their public works department.
Q: Who owns it? And where is it?
A: Warner Robins. It’s managed by the Warner Robins Parks and Recreation Department. It’s located right off Watson Boulevard at 110 Olympia Drive, across from Arby’s where the old Kmart used to be.
Q: When did it get underway?
A: About three years, but the idea goes further back many years to Ed Bayer and Charlie McGlamry and then their families donating the land to the city.
Q: What sort of investment has there been?
A: It’s easily a $2 million investment through land donation, land clearing, in-kind services, engineering, surveying work and overall park development. Houston County’s land work was worth $250,000 and similar from McGlamry Properties. A 2,000 square foot farm house was donated by Cherished Children, we’re calling it the Coleman Cottage. Warner Robins put $100,000 in and then there’s everything from surveying to engineering to construction to incalculable volunteer hours. So basically, the city contributed $100,000 and got a $2 million park thanks to a grassroots effort and people’s efforts and cooperation.
Q: What was one of the best surprises along the way?
A: There were many, but one was the huge part the 116th Air National Guard Civil Engineering Group from Robins Air Force Base played in building the trail. They did it as part of an official training exercise and it was the first time for something like that. They want to again.
Q: What’s the parks size, hours and some main features?
A: Thirty-seven acres of which only maybe 10 have been developed south of Bay Gall Creek. The trail’s a little over a mile and it goes the whole perimeter. It’s basically open seven days a week 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A: There’s the city’s only small-dog and all-dog dog park with agility features. There’s the 3 acre lawn and there’s benches, picnic tables, a pavilion, library box and, of course, the trail. And as I said, we haven’t even gotten to the north side.
Q: What are you expecting there — and what’s your next big project?
A: We’re open to possibilities. A mountain bike group has approached us about trails and that would be great. We’d like to see a 500-person amphitheater. I think our next big project is getting the Coleman Cottage restored for use for meetings and office space. Get the kitchen fixed and a deck on the back and get the front porch back on.
Q: Wellston Trees & Greens spearheads the effort and you’re point man, what do you have to say about the group?
A: We’ve helped move things forward but the community has responded. We’re a nonprofit organization focused on improving and preserving natural resources and expansion of passive parks, green spaces and natural resources development. We advocate, educate and engage regarding greenspace and trail development, and, of course, part of that is just letting people know what’s out there and what could be. It’s surprising to me when I talk about Wellston Park how many people still don’t know about it or where it is. On the other hand, so many have been using it already and helping develop it. Like a group of 25 to 30 volunteers from BioLife Plasma Services who came out and assembled benches.
Q: Any new projects outside Wellston Park?
A: Our focus is here, but we always have our eyes open and like to cooperate. Research shows Warner Robins has 26 miles of available trail space that’s not even developed. We’d love to see a number of the parks and greenspaces in Middle Georgia connected by trails and a trail along Bay Gall Creek would be key.
Q: What’s been feedback about the park? Do people feel safe?
A: I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen or heard of but one issue in the last 13 years at Wellston Trail off Corder Road and nothing here at the park. And that one incident at Wellston Trail was a domestic issue. Other than that, nothing.
Q: What’s a good way to keep track of Wellston Trees and Greens and the park?
A: We’re on Facebook and there’s contact information there, like emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at email@example.com.