Plans are in the works for the city of Tyler to add a historic new park that celebrates the St. Louis community and its residents after the council gave approval Wednesday.

The 9-acre T.B. and Gladys Stewart Park will be built at the west side of Old Frankston Highway, just north of Walton Road. It will include a community garden, a pond, a picnic area, a playground and a 1,000-square foot house, which will be re-purposed for use in the park.

There also will be parking, and the pond will provide irrigation for the grounds. The city held meetings with residents and focus groups in the St. Louis area to get input on what the park should include.

"I would like to thank all of the community members for their input," Parks and Recreation Director Stephanie Rollings told council members.

She said the department is still looking at options for funding, and that the park project could be submitted as a half-cent sales tax project or funded by hotel-motel tax. The city's hotel-motel tax, which can fund tourism-related projects, was increased after a 2011 bill passed the Legislature.

"There has also been some private interest," Ms. Rollings said, referring to possible private donations to help fund the park.

The construction is estimated to cost $1.1 million, according to information from the city, and Ms. Rollings said she hopes to get funding for the first phase of the park included in the 2013-2014 fiscal budget year.

In October, the city of Tyler hosted a celebration honoring the land gift left to the city from the late T.B. and Gladys Stewart. The couple, married for 75 years, donated the land and the home there to be used for a park and possibly an event center. The Stewarts, now deceased, were known in the community for their generosity and for helping people.

The park will include interpretative stations along a concrete walking trail, which will document the history and culture of the St. Louis community, annexed into Tyler in the mid-1970s, Mark Spencer of the Tyler-based MHS Planning and Design told council members.

"We will make the stone house into a usable space and possibly turn it into a living history museum," Spencer said.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of new City Attorney Deborah Pullum to replace outgoing City Attorney Gary Landers. Landers announced his retirement in May and plan to stay with the city until May 2014.

Ms. Pullum, who has worked as an assistant city attorney since 2004, told council members she was honored and humbled to be given the opportunity and looked forward to serving the city in her new position. Prior to working for the city, Pullum was an assistant district attorney for the Smith County District Attorney's Office from 1997 to 2004. She is married to Ronald Pullum, and they have three sons.

Ms. Pullum will earn $120,000 per year with a $5,670 annual auto allowance, according to information from the city. The city has four total attorney positions, including Landers and Ms. Pullum, but only three of those are filled.

"You've been a fabulous employee for many years," Mayor Bass told her.

The city's communications department received a first place award at the annual Texas Association of Municipal Information Officers annual conference this week for the city's website, which launched in 2012. The TAMI Award is the leading recognition in Texas honoring excellence for municipal communication strategies, according to information from the city.

 

 

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