Major renovation planned for Nesmith Park

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The proposed renovation plan for Nesmith Park provides for a splash pad, regulation and youth baseball/softball fields, multi-use football/soccer field, pickleball and basketball courts and an updated playground.  (Rendering courtesy of CP&R)

CULLMAN – In recent years, Cullman Parks, Recreation, and Sports Tourism (CP&R) has undertaken the renovation of four city parks: Ingle, Carrol Acres, Stiefelmeyer and Culpepper.  Next, the department hopes to add Nesmith Park to that list. Seeking funding from the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) matching grant program, CP&R hopes to perform a major operation on the west side park that will go far beyond sprucing up, to the creation of what will be in many ways a whole new recreation and sports facility.

The proposed plan calls for:

  • a regulation baseball field approximating the dimensions of Cullman High School's field
  • a splash pad, to replace the park’s pool that closed several years ago
  • open play spaces with upgraded playground equipment
  • a half-mile walking loop around the complex
  • a multi-use football/soccer field
  • a youth baseball/softball field
  • three pickleball courts
  • a basketball court

Baseball field meets identified need

CP&R Executive Director Nathan Anderson told The Tribune, “The high school baseball coach, Coach (Brent) Patterson, approached me a couple of years ago about field needs with his baseball teams, primarily the JV team, and a pretty big need for additional field space.  And we currently, especially on that side of town, did not have a field that was large enough for them.

“So, as we were thinking about how we could use this land, we started playing around with the layout, and it turns that out we could get a field around the same exact size that the high school currently has on this property.  So that plays with the 350-foot distance from home plate to center field, which is perfect for their needs. So this will be a practice site and a game site for the high school, as well as continuing to meet the needs that we have with travel ball that we bring to the area.”

Walkway to provide safe route for walkers, students

Nesmith Park is a thoroughfare for some of the west side’s students going to and from West Elementary School.

According to Anderson, “We want to create a safer walking passage for the neighbors to get to school, also for exercise.  And we will have pathway lighting, so at night it’s safe, easy to monitor.”

Water element returns to Nesmith with splash pad

After CP&R closed the Nesmith Park pool several years ago, it had a desire to return some type of cool-fun-for-hot-days water recreation to the site.  The decision was made to pursue a splash pad, which is easier to maintain and is considered safer for younger children.

Anderson explained, “We’re excited about bringing in a really nice splash pad that will be free for the public to use.”

CP&R will submit its  grant proposal later this month and will have to wait at least two months to hear back.  If the department gets the grant, construction could begin shortly after that and could be completed in late 2019 or early 2020.

Anderson said improvements to Nesmith will move forward in some way, with or without outside funding.

Said Anderson, “We will be addressing that park regardless of grant funding, but we are hopeful that this is a great candidate for the LWCF grant.  And, if we can get that grant, of course, we can do a lot more with the site.

“We appreciate the (Cullman) City Council’s support for community parks and addressing quality of life needs within our community.  We appreciate the feedback that we’ve received from Cullman City Schools and from West Elementary, and the athletic department, and then the local community to this park providing their insight and their history of this parkland.  So, we could not have done this without their help.

“The small parks mean a lot to our park board and our staff, so we are very appreciative to the community and city leaders for supporting our efforts.”

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