$400K TAP grant gets Picayune park project off the ground

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - It's just a matter of time before the old Crosby Memorial Hospital site in Picayune is transformed into a beautiful city park. City leaders received a $400,000 MDOT grant on Tuesday to begin construction on the project.

The five acre site has been home to Crosby Memorial Hospital for decades and has sentimental value to Carol Phares. Her two children were born there. Phares is now Director of the Crosby Memorial Public Library right across the street from the old hospital site.

"It's going to be a beautiful place," said Phares.

She said it will be a place library patrons along with the community can enjoy.

"I'm hoping to be able to do story hour and the summer reading program over here. We'd be able to hold children's programs at the amphitheater, which would be a change of venue for the kids. It would get them out in the fresh air to read stories, to tell stories," said Phares

A $400,000 MDOT grant, along with $100,000 from the city, will fund park amenities such as an outdoor theater, a walking track and a decorative wrought iron fence that will circle the facility.

"This is giving this five acres new life and new purpose," said Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero.

Pinero said that new purpose was just what most residents wanted to see happen on the land. The park was designed by citizens who showed up for a public hearing on the issue.

"They've brought us plans. They've brought us hand sketches. They've given us websites so people could go see what other cities have done throughout the United States. The general theme has remained the same, walking track with an amphitheater and not make this an athletic park but make it a green space for relaxation," explained Pinero.

City leaders say the park will be enjoyed for many years to come.

"It really turned out to be a community team effort, and I think that our children and our children's children will reap the benefits of what we're doing here today," said City Manager Jim Luke.

Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King presented the Transportation Alternative Program, or TAP grant, check to the city. Construction on the first phase of the park is expected to start in about a month and be completed and ready for use by this time next year.

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