The City of Thomasville’s initiative to improve the community’s public greenspaces took a major step forward this week when a longstanding improvement project for historic Francis Weston Park broke ground. Construction began on Monday, December 14th for the project that will see more than $440,000 in improvements and enhancements for the beloved Dewey City neighborhood park. The Thomasville City Council approved the initiative in October, and construction is expected to be complete by mid-April of next year.
“These improvements will provide our citizens with an enhanced experience as they visit Weston Park,” said City Councilmember Wanda Warren. “The park is loved by the community and is a popular venue for family reunions, church outings, and many other community events. This investment into Weston Park has opened an opportunity not just for the current enhancements by the City of Thomasville, but also for continued community investment as witnessed by the recent donation of a scoreboard by Thomasville National Bank.”
According to Kenny Thompson, City Planner, the process to improve Weston Park began several years ago and included input from numerous community stakeholders. “In April of 2017, we hosted a three-day Park Design Charrette at the Douglass High School cafeteria and received a lot of great public input,” he said. “The initial sessions of the charrette included round table exercises, storytelling stations, a photo booth, and multiple feedback loops.” He added that over 50 residents from the neighborhood, City Council members, a County Commissioner, and City staff participated in the charrette. Using feedback gathered during the charrette, input from the park steering committee and neighborhood criteria, a conceptual master plan, and a prioritized list of projects were created. In 2018, the City Council adopted the final vision plan for the park.
The Weston Park Vision Plan has served as the guiding document for projects within the park. “Over the last couple of years, we have made enhancements at Weston Park as part of the preliminary phase of the vision plan,” said Mike Owens, Manager of Parks, Recreation, and Golf. “Bathroom renovations, a new shaded pavilion, picnic tables, benches, and playground equipment were all part of the first phase of improvements that have been completed.”
Councilmember David Hufstetler is pleased to see the project moving forward. “This is the beginning of a long-overdue project in one of our most deserving communities, Dewey City,” he said. “The main credit goes to Councilmember Warren, who along with City Manager Alan Carson, Executive Director Sheryl Sealy, City Planner Kenny Thompson, their staffs, and our City Attorney Tim Sanders, whose combined efforts over the last twelve months pushed this project to fruition.”
Owens said that the current construction project will put into place the phase of the vision plan that will change the look, feel, and usage of the park. “The improvements that are underway at Weston Park are very exciting. A new one-third mile lighted walking track, resurfaced basketball courts, and improved parking at both entrances are the highlights of this phase. The enhancements will also bring additional picnic tables, benches, trash cans, and further improvements to restrooms. A comprehensive landscaping plan that features new trees, shrubs and pine straw will change the overall aesthetics of the park as well. We are very excited to see this complete transformation completed for our community.”
Construction for Weston Park is expected to be completed in the spring of next year. For the safety of citizens, areas of the park will be closed and pavilion reservations will be temporarily unavailable to the public as the improvements get underway. “We regret having to close portions of the park during construction, but the final product will be well worth the wait and any inconvenience to our community,” said Owens.
“A collaborative effort between engaged community stakeholders, City Councilmembers, and City staff helped us create a vision and direction for Weston Park that will provide our community with a park that is a point of community pride,” said Warren. “We look forward to re-opening the park to the public in April of 2021.”
For more information and updates about the scheduled enhancements at Weston Park, please visit Thomasville.org or contact Kenny Thompson at 229-227-4118 or Mike Owens at 229-227-4073.