By BRAD KELLAR
Huge crowds turned out Saturday to be among the first to enjoy the new version of Greenville’s oldest community park.
A grand opening and dedication ceremony was conducted at Graham Park, which had undergone a $1 million renovation effort. Before the festivities even began, hundreds of visitors swarmed through the park; climbing on the new playground equipment, trying out the new fishing pier, taking a shot at nine holes of disc golf or just admiring how beautiful the lake looked with three fountains spraying into the air.
Former City Council member Betty Franklin, who had been among those pushing for the work, said she could not believe her eyes.
“What a transformation,” Franklin exclaimed. “This is like a dream come true.”
Juanita Tidwell has lived near Graham Park in Greenville for some five decades and has been a frequent visitor.
“The park has come a long way,” Tidwell said. “I am grateful the Lord has delayed his coming so that I can see this day.”
The City of Greenville received a $500,000 grant from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife for the effort to renovate Graham Park and provided a $500,000 match. The improvements under the project included the fountains, pier, playground equipment and disc golf course, along with a walking trail, a dog park and a splash pad.
Even though it was a little windy Saturday, temperatures rose into the 80s and the splash pad was an instant hit among the children at the event.
City Manager Steven Alexander credited Parks and Recreation Director Colby VanGundy and his staff for overseeing the project and assisting the contractor, Sports Facility Construction Company, with the work.
Alexander said the park was an example of a quality of life project which the City Council considered a priority, even though money was tight. Alexander said the state grant helped enable the effort to proceed.
“So when an opportunity came along to give the park a facelift, we took advantage of that opportunity,” Alexander said. “It represents our ability to get things done.”