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Linden Council looking to improve city parks

Two Linden city Parks are on their way to vast improvements. George P. Austin Park as well as Scott Park will soon be undergoing sweeping renovations and additions.

Both parks are a favorite spot for young people in Linden; however, both have been in need of extra attention. The Linden council voted at their Tuesday meeting to begin looking at ways to improve their city parks.

Among the proposed changes for the parks are two are pavilions for each park, new playground equipment, a barbecue for Austin Park and the completion of the bathroom project at Scott Park.

Francis Jackson, who works with the Park and Recreation Department, came before the council Tuesday to bring the needed improvements to their attention. Jackson said visiting the parks painted a clear picture of what needed to be done.

“If you have ever been out there you have probably noticed that it is dire need of something to be done out there,” Jackson said. “The ground needs to be cleaned, the pool needs to have the dirt and debris spread out that it placed by it and it just needs a lot of work out there at the Austin Park.”

Playground equipment is one of the highest priorities for those who use the park. Jackson said the equipment and a few other additions could make the park a wonderful place to visit again.

“We would like to request some playground equipment similar to the ones at Linden Elementary Schools,” Jackson said. “We would also like two pavilions and a barbecue pits. Before we put anything out there the grounds need to be smoothed out. If you go out there now it is not going to look like you have anything out there. We would really like to have the council consider purchasing those items as well as the bathroom project at Scott Park.”

Dave Wiggins, who also works closely with the Park and Recreation Department, said the projects could be completed for a very reasonable price beginning with the Scott Park bathrooms.

“The bathroom project out there with a septic tank and we would like to buy that,” Wiggins said. “We have estimates of less than $1,800 to finish it so that is where we are at.”

As for playground equipment, Wiggins said the newly added playground equipment at Linden Elementary School provided a model for what they would like to add. Wiggins also said they had looked into ways to make the addition of pavilions at both parks more affordable.

“We talked to Game Time and got some prices for a 14-by-22 and 20-by-28 pavilion,” Wiggins said. “They said it could run anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 to $15,000. If the city crews actually did the pavilion the pavilion at Austin would be 24-by-32 and the materials would run around $3,000 plus whatever we had in the barbecue grill. We are talking about less than $4,000 for that pavilion.”

Wiggins said their plan would save a large amount of money and create very nice pavilions at both parks.

“We are looking at a 12-by-20 up there by the playground equipment at less than $2,000 for the materials,” Wiggins said. “We can build a couple of pavilions and a barbecue for less than $6,000, which would be less than one pavilion from someone else.”

The Park and Recreation Department plans to look at bids and work with City Administrator Cheryl Hall for the playground equipment.

Tim Collins praised the work of the department and concerned citizens. Collins said a lot of thought had gone into the proposal and plans.

“I will say that Mrs. Frances and other people at the Park and Recreation Department have done a lot of homework and a lot of research to try to put this all on the table,” Collins said. “We think this could be the stepping-stone to something bigger and better at a later date. We want to see this succeed, we want to see that area cleaned up and we want to do it right.”