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A place to play: Neighborhood welcomes Westpointe Park


City officials and guests gather for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Westpointe Park on June 25, 2019.


Karen Eckert

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

It was a long time coming — six years, in fact — but Phase I of Westpointe Park, located off Statonsburg Road, is a project that has finally come to fruition.

City officials, council members, community members and other supporters gathered late Tuesday afternoon for a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony.

Gary Fenton, director of the the city’s Recreation and Parks Department, described the facility as “a neighborhood park” that Westpointe residents can walk to and enter through an entrance at 1821 Gretna Drive. There is a gravel parking lot available for residents who may need to drive.

“We’re delighted to open this park and bring it to the Westpointe area and we want everyone to enjoy it,” Greenville City Manager Ann Wall said.

Mayor P.J. Connelly, who attended the ceremony with his two young daughters, said the park is a place for children to enjoy outside recreation away from YouTube and the other electronic distractions of 21st century life.

Playing in this park can provide an opportunity for children to learn how to share and how to play cooperatively, he said.

The park is also a place where parents and children can bond, Connelly said. There is even equipment in the park to help make that happen.

There are a few multi-generational swings that are designed for a parent and a child to use together. The parent can sit in a traditional type swing while a toddler sits in a bucket seat facing the parent while the unit moves in tandem.

In addition, the park offers more traditional swings as well as slides and climbing equipment. There is a separate area appropriate for children ages 2 to 5 while another area is designed for children ages 5 to 12.

Kenneth Nealy, 11, a rising sixth grader at A.G. Cox middle school, was at the dedication ceremony with his mother, Audrey Nealy. The Nealys live adjacent to the park.

Audrey Nealy, who served for several years on the Parks and Recreation Commission, played a key role in the park’s development.

Kenneth said that he thinks the new park is “pretty great.” He said he likes that there are some traditional types of equipment but that there are also things that he has not seen before, such as the way some of the steps are designed.

Audrey Nealy said she likes the bright blue and green colors of the equipment.

In addition, the park offers a paved walking trail around the area. If walkers go eight laps, they’ve gone a mile, Fenton said.

Recreation and Parks thinks that restrooms are important and this park has them, Fenton said, noting that parents don’t like to have to take their children into portable toilets.

Margaret Hrushesky, president of the Westpointe Neighborhood Association, was involved in the development of the park from the beginning.

Hrushesky said that six years ago during a National Night Out event she asked her neighbors what they thought the community needed to improve it.

The overwhelming response was, “We need a place for the kids to play,” Hrushesky said. The process for building the park was eventually set in motion.

“Because the city council supported it, the park became a reality,” she said.

Fenton also gave credit to Kandie Smith, in particular, who was a strong supporter of the park when she held the council seat in District 1.

Monica Daniels, who now holds the District 1 seat, also said she supports the park.

There are plans for development of Phases II and III of the park, which would expand the recreational area into more of a regional park, Fenton said.

Plans would incorporate an entrance into the park off Stantonsburg Road.

In those phases, there are plans for a community building, tennis and basketball courts, a multi-use field and a larger walking trail, Fenton said.

Fenton said that those items have not yet been budgeted, so there is no guarantee Phases II and III will happen.

If those phases do happen, they will happen over time, Fenton said.

“Most everything we do (in Recreation and Parks) requires persistence,” he said.

Fenton encouraged people to take care of the park.

“Parks are only new for a short time,” he said.

Fenton said he would like everyone to be intolerant of litter or other intentional damage. The park has a security camera to aid in its protection.

“The park is not the right place to do anything inappropriate,” he said.