Kiwanis launch park renovation

Published 1:12 pm Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fifty years ago Grove Street Park was the place to be in Farmville. Allison Crews would like to see that happen again, but updating an aging park, as Crews has discovered, is not child’s play.

“This has been in my head for a couple of years,” Crews said. “Recently I’ve taken it off the back burner and am spearheading this project as a member of the Kiwanis.”

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Established in 1925, Grove Street Park was one of the first community projects completed by the Woman’s Club of Farmville that was organized just five years earlier.

For close to 100 years, Grove Street Park was a home away from home for Farmville youngsters.

“I remember big groups of kids — 40 to 60 — at the park after school,” Farmville Town Councilman Dan Dwyer said. “Back around 1960 it was the place to go.”

In addition to informal playtime, Dwyer remembers organized activities at the park.

“Kids would go and spend the morning — something like a day camp,” he said. “Then there was a spot where older kids would play ball. I wasn’t big enough for that crowd, so I was a spectator who admired guys who went on to become the high school stars who probably cut their teeth at Grove Street Park.”

As an older established park, Grove Street has an advantage — trees.

“It’s an old park, and it has shade,” Dwyer said.

On a recent weekday afternoon, Joan Krazicki visited the park and commented on the pleasant setting.

“This is my first time here,” she said. “What’s so lovely about this park are the trees.”

The “basic bones” of the park are good, Crews

believes; however, the playground equipment leaves much to be desired.

“Looking around here, there’s nothing for upper arm strength,” she said.

Currently the park includes a slide, swings and some merry-go-round-like figures mounted on metal springs.

Crews would like to replace all of that with the latest in playground equipment geared for various age groups.

“I would certainly like it to be an inclusive playground for kids of all abilities,” she said.

Landscape Structures Inc., creators of innovative playground equipment since 1971, is a Kiwanis vision partner.

Crews has studied the Landscape Structures catalog and talked to one of the company’s representatives.

“For Grove Street Park, looking at some of the pieces I’ve dreamt up, you’re looking at $60,000-$80,000,” Crews said.

That, she believes, is an investment in Farmville’s future. She envisions the park as a place not only for children to play but as a spot for people of all ages to gather.

“I would love to see The Woodland or Trinity Mission bring their residents here in the summer,” she said. “There’s a lot of room for collaboration. The Virginia Children’s Book Festival is partnering with us this summer to do story time in the park. I would love to see Chris Bolt organizing with Town Parks & Rec to run events here — maybe show movies here in the summer. There’s a lot of ways to maximize the space.”

The first order of business is, of course, to update the park.

“I spoke to Mark Southall at Creative Electrical Contracting,” Crews said. “Before we make any investments here I want to make sure we have lighting worked out. We want to be subtle — something like ‘uplighting.’ I really want to be considerate of the neighbors.”

Crews plans to speak to civic clubs and other groups about projected park improvements.

“I would like everybody to be involved,” she said. “I would gladly welcome input and help — big scale or little scale.”

Crews recently held a Grove Street Playground Potluck that raised $1,000.

“A private donor is matching that,” she said.

Crews is also looking into the possibility of grants.

“Living in a rural community there’s plenty of space, but it’s nice to have a place to come play together,” Crews said. “The playground is a level playing field.”

Crews also hopes to make it a playing field where memories can be made.

Dwyer has memories of the park that linger to this day.

“I go through Grove Street Park at least twice a week when I’m taking my walks,” he said. “I like remembering things that make me feel good — and this place did.”

For more information on the Grove Street Park renovation project, contact Allison Crews at natural pHuel at (804) 307-9608.