Louisville Park Getting Attention

A local community is coming together to kick-off a major campaign to refurbish what was once a park set aside for African-Americans.

Supporters of this effort in Louisville, Miss., say lack of attention to Dean Park has taken a toll, but that will be changing.

"Friends of Dean Park" has initiated a grassroots effort to raise between $80,000 and $100,000 to buy new playground equipment.

Daycare owner Deborah Holmes was the first to donate $1,000.

"You look at the slide. It's too steep for the children. They can easily come down and and bump their head. So, that just needs to come down," said Holmes.

According to supporters, erosion has caused a lot of the problems that have led to cracks in fences, asphalt and what was once level land.

Over the years, group leaders say this park has largely been neglected. One example of it is on the tennis court which officials say was damaged by Hurricane Katrina. However, FEMA funds were never sought to fix it.

With the help of a commission for the park that was formed by Winston County supervisors, private donations and volunteers, the Friends of Dean Park has painted murals on park structures, planted flowers, grass and helped to restore a rundown pavilion.

Founded just a year-and-a-half ago, organizers say the group is making a difference.

"It was a park where many people hung out, drank, smoked marijuana and that's no longer happening here on a large scale," said Elmetra Patterson of Friends of Dean Park. "People have started to respect what we are doing. They're becoming a part of what we are doing and it's no longer a littered park."

Patterson says the goal is to ultimately offer tutoring and even more sports activities at Dean Park. As for the new playground equipment, she says they hope to have that in place by June.

Anyone interested in helping financially may send donations to:
Friends of Dean Park Playground Equipment
P. O. Box 365
Louisville, MS 39339


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