Pigeon Point celebrates reopening of its park

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Pigeon Point celebrates reopening of its park

By SANDRA WALSH<br>The Beaufort Gazette
Published Sunday, May 7, 2006 in The Island Packet  |  464 Words  |  /BeaufortGazette/local_news

The Richardson brothers, Sam, 5, Ben, 3, and Nic, 1, sat in a circle on a patch of green grass under a strong oak crunching on chips at the reopening of Pigeon Point Park celebration Saturday.'
"I like it," Sam said, licking his barbecue chip-coated fingers. "I like the wibbly wobbly slide."'
"I like the swings," Ben said, wiping Cheetos dust on his shirt. '
The boys' mother, Camille Richardson, said she has been jogging past the park with her sons in a stroller for the past few months, watching its progress.'
"We're so excited that it's finally here," she said. "It's absolutely beautiful."'
The reopening ceremony included a few words from Mayor Bill Rauch, who alluded to a failed 1 cent capital project sales tax referendum that went before voters in 2004 for road and park improvement projects that would have allotted $1 million to renovating Pigeon Point Park.'
"We did it anyway," Rauch told a large crowd of adults and children. "This was the first time the city's Parks Department tackled a job like this."'
With help from volunteers with the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Watch Group, the city's Parks Department, headed by landscape architect Eliza Hill, took on the job with a meager budget of nearly $200,000.'
"This is really a transitional neighborhood with history in every street corner," said former city manager John McDonough, who led the park project before his departure in February and came back Saturday from his new job in the Atlanta suburbs for the park's opening. "We wanted to help strengthen it."'
The park's history goes back to 1863. It was a thriving park in the '60s, but by the late '80s the park was dilapidated. '
"I thought I'd never see the day," said lifelong Pigeon Point resident Arthur Ripley, 45, who remembers spinning on a merry-go-round at the park with his sister in the '60s.'
A brick walkway snakes through the improved park, around playground equipment and flower beds, but there are still unfinished amenities the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Watch Group would like to see added to the park such as a water fountain, walking and jogging trails, a botanical garden, a fence and benches.'
To raise money for improvements, the group was at the park selling bricks for $37.50 each, which will be engraved and laid to make up a portion of the park's pathway. '
The group has sold more than 300 bricks, but they would like to sell all 20,000 historic bricks taken from the former Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.'
"It's just a dream," said Beaufort Councilwoman Donnie Beer, emcee of the event. "I haven't stopped grinning since I woke up this morning."