Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday morning, Mayor Toby Barker was joined by Ward 3 Councilman Carter Carroll, Robert St. John, Parks & Recreation Director Chris McGee, Parks & Recreation Projects Manager, Representative Missy McGee and neighborhood representatives to announce a $500,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. When matched with 1% sales tax revenue for Parks and Recreation, this grant will fully fund the construction of Midtown Green in the heart of Midtown Hattiesburg.
“This will be a neighborhood park, spurred by those who live here. When I visited several neighborhood associations In 2017 and 2018 to discuss neighborhood needs, wants and desires – this park was one of them,” said Barker. “After our citizens overwhelmingly passed the 1% parks and recreation sales tax in 2019, we began working with the Midtown Merchants Association and local neighborhood associations to put that vision on paper and last year, our team made significant strides in the process through applying for this grant. Now, we’re here and we’re excited about the days ahead.”
This project is a 4.2-acre park with the primary entrance accessible from Crestmont Avenue. It will feature a well-lit walking trail, exercise stations, a small performance stage, children’s play area, picnic areas, site furniture and parking with additional overflow made by possible by University Baptist Church.
An additional amenity, which will be the first of its kind throughout the City, is an inclusive-accessible playground. This request, high on the list of many residents, will provide those with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to play the same as their peers while continuing the development of physical, cognitive, social and sensory skills.
Barker added, “Over the past four years, we’ve worked on parks projects all across the City – from Duncan Lake’s expansion in Ward 2 to the splash pad at Dewitt-Sullivan Park in Ward 5. While some projects are more complex in nature – like getting to the arbitration stage with FEMA for Timberton Park or working on a grant that allows for the purchase of land like this one – our commitment to progress and making quality of life improvements in every ward remains.”
City officials and community leaders believe the convenience of this park’s amenities and its location will provide a place for neighbors to gather, share in celebrations for milestones and serve as a platform to host special events that add to the quality of life for all.
“At the top of our to-do list was to get a park built— which would be the first public, non-school greenspace— in Midtown Hattiesburg. Today, thanks to the hard work and determination of a lot of people, Midtown Green is a reality,” said Robert St. John, business owner and projects chair for the Midtown Merchants Association. “I am a neighbor, too. I live just a few blocks up and spent 19 years during my life a few blocks away – and I look forward to bringing my adult kids to this park.”
Additional funding for the project will also come from the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. Next, the project will go through the design phase and bid process, with plans to break ground in Summer 2022.