park walk

A man walks along the 300 block of Center Street in front of a vacant lot that is slated a new park after its owners donated it to Main Street Douglas. The plan is to spruce the lot up and make it a family-friendly park before turning it over to the city after safety features, such as fencing on both ends, are implemented for children.

Tommy Wilson always wanted a nice space for families to enjoy at his vacant lot nestled between a pair of historic buildings downtown.

Just before his passing in 2011, the man was able to bring a sprinkler system and pair of concrete picnic tables to the space along the 300 block of Center Street, but his true vision never blossomed.

All of that is about to change.

Talk of what to do with the property has been tossed around for years, according to The Enterprise Executive Director Cindy Porter, but until about a month ago, not much progress came of it.

The property belonged to Tommy’s widow, Bev Wilson. Not able to complete necessary paperwork before his passing caused the land to sit in the same condition for the last eight years. Bev attempted to sell the property but never reached a deal and at one point talked about donating it to the community.

Then last summer, Main Street Douglas Co-chair Deb Gorsuch saw the land was still for sale and wondered if talks about acquiring the land had fizzled out.

Bev responded.

“She came back to me at the end of August and said, ‘I really want to donate the property,’” Gorsuch said.

With that, Bev turned the land over to Main Street Douglas, a non-profit 501(c)(3), on the basis that it would later be signed over to the city for future management.

The narrow rectangular space doesn’t have much room for a commercial enterprise, but the general consensus at Main Street Douglas is it should be a child-friendly park for families.

“My hope would be it become a little children’s park,” Porter said, explaining how both ends of the park would be fenced off to protect youngsters from passing traffic on Center Street and the alleyway at the rear.

“We want to keep it safe and secure,” she explained. “These are just some ideas. The Main Street board probably hasn’t finalized its plans yet.”

The concrete picnic tables are likely to remain as they are, but will be painted in vibrant colors to make the area more visually appealing.

The possibility of a piece of playground equipment could be added to enrich the property, Porter noted.

Adjacent buildings are historic, meaning Main Street Douglas can’t attach anything to those existing walls or paint over the graffiti present. Gorsuch suggested the possibility of putting up poles with boards that can feature artwork to make the space more inviting. With city permission, they have thought about having a mural painted.

It’s too early in the process to know exactly what will happen, Gorsuch said.

Whatever occurs, she is just happy to be moving forward. More work on the space will come when weather is more optimal next spring, she said.

“We’re just excited to start making changes,” Gorsuch said. “We’re grateful for the Wilsons’ generosity. I feel like it was so important to Tommy, and we’re making a dream come true for the family.”

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