Just about every Tuesday and Thursday, you can find Robert Young and Alicia Ziegeler eating lunch under the oak trees at Jones Park in Gulfport. Robert Young said "I like the trees and the shade and picnic tables, and all the shady spots around the picnic tables. That's really nice".
But Young says the park has the potential to be a lot nicer. Young said "Some bathrooms would be nice, bathrooms for everybody to come to the park to use".
Alicia Ziegeler said "I'd like to see barbecue grills and some landscaping".
Mary Anne Barkley said "When people come down Highway 49, this is the first thing they see. It should be a great thing of beauty and one of the top sights in South Mississippi".
Barkley has a bigger vision for Jones Park. She's a member of a citizen's group, working to enhance the park's beauty. Barkley said "I would like to see more playground equipment for children here, perhaps a bike and a walking path. Perhaps a few lights so at night, if people wanted to come down they will feel a little safer".
Other plans include restoring the old fountain, and rebuilding Rice Pavilion. Barkley said "It really needs to be torn down. Possibly the same slab could be used, but a new building be erected in that same spot. Maybe one with a little more personality and character, so when people come to the park, they will see something very nice".
Barkley also envisions more flowers and greenery at the park. Barkley said "I would like for us to have a sprinkler system that would water parts of the entire park and that way, we could plant more Azaleas and native plants".
Group members don't know yet how much the improvements will cost, but they do know that the changes will happen. That's because back in May, a federal court ruled that Jones Park should remain a park, and should not be developed.
Barkley said "We want to just move forward with beautification, keep up our spirits and just preserve this park forever for the people of Gulfport and the visitors here".
The citizens group plans to apply for grants, seek donations, and host events like Art in the Park to raise money for the improvements. The group must get approval from the city first, before any work can begin.