PERRY -- Dream big.
That’s the approach Perry Councilman Randall Walker and other city leaders have for enhancing and developing green space in the city.
Their big-picture vision includes connecting all the city’s parks, including the Heritage Park being developed off U.S. 341, with walking trails.
To achieve that, city leaders are taking a look at each green space project individually while keeping the overall vision in view.
One such project is the development of several properties that encompass more than 20 acres near what’s known as the five-point intersection. The intersection includes General Courtney Hodges Boulevard, Main Street, Carroll Street, Commerce Street and Wf Ragin Drive.
The city-owned properties include Rotary Centennial Park, the former church building behind it, the city’s old wastewater treatment plant that eventually will be phased out of operation, the historic Evergreen Cemetery, the former Jaycees building, the Goodroe Park site and the old gas station building on that property.
City leaders are currently focusing on Goodroe Park.
They’re also evaluating the site against other parks to determine which is best suited to offer amenities they’d like to include, such as an amphitheater or splash pad.
“We don’t want to be myopic in the view of what are we going to do long term and what do we have going on right now that can all tie together, and I think that’s critical for us to think that broad,” Walker said. “We need to have a very broad vision when we start doing small pieces of it.”
The overall plan for properties, including Goodroe Park, is to create a welcoming gateway to downtown, said Robert Smith, the city’s economic development director.
To achieve that for Goodroe Park, the city solicited ideas during a public hearing, narrowed those ideas to what they think is feasible and solicited proposals from consultants.
The consultants, who also were asked to look at other city projects in addition to Goodroe Park, are expected to present their ideas to council members at an Aug. 17 work session.
Meanwhile, city leaders already have been considering a narrowed list of recommendations that followed public input and council discussion for Goodroe Park. Other properties included in the green space project near the five-point intersection would be impacted.
Chief among them is creating a veterans memorial at Goodroe Park. The memorial may be expanded to also honor prominent people that have made a significant impact on Perry, Walker said.
Also proposed is the closing of Main Street from its intersection at General Courtney Hodges Boulevard to the railroad crossings just past Evergreen Cemetery. That section of road may be converted to green space.
Also on the table is converting the former Jaycees building next to the park into a community meeting facility.
Another proposal is to build a walking path that would include a pedestrian bridge connecting Rotary Centennial Park to Goodroe Park. Walls may be built around Evergreen Cemetery bordering the park, and the former gas station on the Goodroe property may be converted into an information site where visitors could stop and pick up literature about the city.
Adding park benches and possibly a fountain or other water feature to Goodroe Park also is being considered.
Council members and city staff considered a wide range of options and looked at how the proposals fit with what they think would work for Goodroe Park and for the overall green space project.
For example, developing an amphitheater at Goodroe Park was one suggestion from the public hearing. Goodroe Park has limited parking, but the Heritage Park project plans include ample room for parking and hosting major events such as a music festival, Walker said.
Nothing has been set in stone, said City Manager Lee Gilmour.
City leaders will consider proposals from consultants, and leaders will be looking for a good fit with a company that can catch their vision for the park.
“In all likelihood what council will probably end up doing,” Gilmour said, “is they could take a look at this and determine which consultant has the widest range of ideas or concepts that would most closely fit council’s vision.”
Built in 1968, Goodroe Park has “outlived its lifetime,” said Councilwoman Phyllis Bynum-Grace.
“The new park will help to revitalize the neighborhood,” she said.
Bynum-Grace also expects multiple spin-off effects from the park’s revitalization such as improved property values in the area and more retirees being attracted to the city.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559, or find her on Twitter@becpurser.