By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – The sounds of children at play were once again heard at Baker Street Park after it reopened Saturday.
The community park has been closed since Oct. 25 of last year for renovations under a $97,779 grant from the Mississippi Development Authority. Those funds were matched locally with $46,865 in-kind work including volunteer labor, materials and equipment.
During opening remarks at the ceremony Saturday morning, volunteer Delice Reese said that a lot of work had been done at the park. “But,” she added, “we still have a lot to do and we still need your help and support.”
Reese praised lead volunteer Levert Hawkins, who she said had “put in hours and hours and hours of his time” working at the park. “He saw a need. He went out and found a way to fulfill that need.”
Mayor Larry Hart also praised Hawkins and the other volunteer workers. “That’s what it takes to make a community move,” Hart said during his remarks.
The Mayor challenged citizens to “keep this park like we want it to be.”
“The City can not do it by themselves,” Hart continued. “The Police Department can’t police it all the time. So, we need eyes and ears to let us know what is going on over here.”
Hart pledged that City government would do everything possible to keep the park “a beautiful place.”
When it was his turn to speak, Hawkins told of all the planning, meetings, negotiating, and labor that went into the project. “When you take it all and wrap it all together, it’s worth it.”
Gesturing toward the children gathered in front of him, Hawkins said, “This is what it’s all about. Today we are going to let the kids have it.”
Also part of the program were Ray Hawkins, who gave the invocation and La’Keylah White, a planner with the North Central Planning and Development District who oversaw the project.
Baker Street Park is located in the eastern part of the city and is bordered by Thorton, Baker, Edgefield and Mills Streets.