Committee asks Rogersvile to buy playground equipment for Swift Park in next budget

Jeff Bobo • Mar 26, 2020 at 5:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — It’s been four years since a committee began planning a massive restoration at Rogersville’s Swift Park, and the panel got quite a bit done, but members have reached the end of their resources with a lot more left to accomplish.

The Swift Park Committee is comprised of members from the Rogersville Main Street Association, including Chamber of Commerce Director Nancy Barker, who addressed the Parks and Recreation Board earlier this month.

Barker asked the board to consider putting some money in the upcoming 2020-21 city budget to buy new playground equipment for Swift.

Swift Park is part of the old Swift College campus located a couple of blocks north of downtown on Hasson Street beside the Chip Hale Center. It’s a well-utilized park located in the middle of a residential neighborhood that has a lot of children.

With the help of grant funding and contributions, the committee has already spent about $90,000 since launching the project in 2016, but to accomplish everything members envision, it’s probably going to take more than $250,000.

Immediate goals for Swift Park

However, that’s not the kind of money Barker was looking for from the Parks Committee at its March 10 meeting.

“Our next goal is we’d like to get some new swings in there,” Barker told the Times News Wednesday. “All that playground equipment has been there since the park was first built. It’s not had any new equipment. What we’d like to do is replace the swing sets. There’s some little riding toys there that need to be replaced.”

Barker added, “We’d also like a new play element that’s more in line with the direction we’re taking the park: fun but also educational. Equipment that’s more hands-on.”

What’s already been accomplished?

Through the Main Street Program, the Swift Park Committee received a Rotary Grant and a Kiwanis grant that helped pay for some of the recent improvements

“We did a prolonged excavation of the park and leveled it, which took us six or eight months because we had to do fill dirt and topsoil, and seed it,” Barker said. “That was probably the biggest thing we did. We went in and poured new pads and put in five new picnic tables. We put in the Sound Garden, which includes bongo drums and tone flowers that children can play. Every petal makes a different noise.

“We also worked with Parks and Rec and got the horseshoe pits back up, and got them looking nice. We worked with the Hawkins County Health Department and put in a walking trail that teaches children good behavior, and the city resurfaced the basketball court and fixed up the goals.”

Long-term goals for Swift Park

The long-range plan is to work with the USDA or UT Extension office to establish a farmers market that would operate Saturday morning until noon, as well as one day during the week.

The committee hopes to secure funding from those two sources that would pay for a new pavilion for the farmers market as well as public restroom facilities. 

“When that park was built ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was not required, so now we’re having to deal with all the ADA requirements,” Barker said. “If we go with a new pavilion, we could make sure that all the bathrooms and the pavilion are ADA accessible.”

Barker added, “That park is small. I think it’s 1.9 acres, but it’s utilized. You hardly go by there when it’s not full of kids up there playing. And then later in the afternoon there’s older kids up there playing basketball all the time. It’s a park that’s highly utilized.”

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