Franklin-Simpson Parks and Recreation will soon embark on the second stage of a parks improvement plan that focuses mainly on Jim Roberts Community Park in Franklin.
Parks director Terry Joiner said the second and final stage of the park improvements will center on paving a gravel path that cuts through the park, fixing fences and installing lighting at soccer fields.
Paving a gravel path that links a gravel parking lot to the batting cages on the other side of the park is seen as the central part of the second phase, Joiner said.
“We just want to connect those two,” he said. “It’s just to get from one side of the park to the other and it just makes it easier to cycle through the park.”
Joiner said paving the path should divert traffic from another path that goes straight through a heavily utilized part of the park where people have to cross the road to get from certain ballfields to concessions and restroom facilities.
“When the traffic came through there it wasn’t particularly safe to go across the road, especially for kids,” he said, later clarifying that this road has been permanently closed.
Paving the path is expected to cost $7,500, Joiner said.
Installing lighting fixtures at five soccer fields in Community Park is expected to cost roughly $40,000, he said.
The parks department also expects to spend $35,000 to replace fencing at the park’s peewee field and $9,500 to replace fencing at the tennis court, Joiner said.
Joiner said Simpson County Fiscal Court approved a $200,000 appropriation for parks improvements roughly a year ago.
The first round of improvements cost roughly $93,000, leaving a little more than $107,000 in the appropriation, Joiner said.
In the first round of improvements, the gravel road the parks department intends to pave was installed, as well as a gravel parking lot that took away the need for people to park on a nearby hillside, Joiner said.
“People parked on that hillside, but it wasn’t anything guided,” he said.
For now, there are no plans to pave the gravel lot, Joiner said.
The first round of improvements also included renovating three public restroom buildings at Community Park and replacing stretches of fencing at Lincoln Park, Joiner said.
“We’ve got to get some bids out and some numbers back in, but I expect this is going to get started very soon,” he said.
Judge-Executive Jamie Spears said there was a great need for the improvements at the parks.
Though Spears was not in office when fiscal court made the appropriation, he said he suspects a need for improvements in the county’s parks and the existence of a budget surplus led to the decision to put $200,000 toward renovating the parks.