Sitting area planned for Tyler's Southside Park
|IF YOU GO|
|What: City of Tyler Parks and Recreation and MHS planning will host a neighborhood meeting to unveil two possible master plans for Stewart park|
When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 5
Where: St. Louis Baptist Church, 4000 Frankston Highway
Southside Park may soon see an Southside park for residents seeking conversation over a good book.
The city's Parks and Recreation Board voted Monday to grant permission to proceed with the sitting area, which will be funded partly with donations to the Literacy Council of Tyler. Land Visions, a Tyler-based landscape architecture firm also will donate its services to build the $20,000 garden area, and area Boy Scouts will contribute some of the labor to help build the area.
Assistant City Manager Susan Guthrie said because the request for city help will total less than $20,000, the request for the reading area will not have to go before city council or the Capital Improvements Board.
The park is a way to honor donors to the Literacy Council of Tyler and to create a quiet space within a very busy area of the park and the Rose Rudman Trail, David Cordell of Land Visions said at the meeting. The area would be used for reading and discussion and could be a place to host guest speakers or for use as an outdoor classroom for students, board members said.
"There is a need to be able to access Rose Rudman Trail from the Southside Park. Creating this entrance would be a huge complement to the trail," Cordell said.
The sitting area would be in a 50-by-50 foot area and would have a small garden with pavers that could list the names of donors on each one, Cordell said. There would be a granite wall to help create the garden feel and a donated bronze statue of two children reading on a bench.
The granite wall would tell the story of the Literacy Council and other benches would be placed in the area, said Michelle Brookshire, endowment chairwoman for the Literacy Council. There are hopes that a second bronze statue of a book also can be donated, Ms. Brookshire said.
"We want it to be an enjoyable atmosphere and a comfortable place to sit and read," she said.
Ms. Brookshire asked for any financial help that the city could provide.
"Any cost at all that the city can contribute would be much appreciated," she said. She hopes to have the park up and running by May.
The Literacy Council is now housed in some rooms within the Tyler Junior College West campus and has no place to honor donors, Ms. Brookshire said.
Board member Keith McCoy said he hoped the area would be conducive to holding conversations.
"We want to create a usable space that would entice people to conversation," he said.
There is a need for literacy services in the Smith County area because a large percentage of the adult population cannot read beyond the eighth grade level, said Nancy Crawford, executive director of the Literacy Council of Tyler. She cited the figures from a 2003 National Assessment of adult literacy on the Literacy Texas website.Other News
There will be a community meeting on March 5 for residents to give input for the Stewart Park Master plan with Parks Director Stephanie Rollings and the Tyler-based MHS Design, who will design the new park.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department unveiled its newest park in October, which is in Tyler's St. Louis district at 2713 Frankston Highway. The property, which has a historic home site, was donated to the city by Gladys and T.B. Stewart, who were longtime Saint Louis community residents.
The Stewarts were married for 75 years and together for more than 83 years. Although they had no children, they had many foster children and understood the need for safe neighborhood parks, Parks Director Stephanie Rollings said.
Ms. Rollings said she recently met with the executors of the Stewart will, and they requested that the 1300 square-foot home on the property not be torn down.
"The family wanted the home used as either a museum or as a neighborhood gathering place to host weddings or neighborhood events," she said.
Board Member Todd Lestage said the family wanted the 14-acre park to be a place where one could go to reflect and did not want to include athletic facilities.