​Community Council Establishes Parks Committee

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the April 23 meeting, the Sewanee Community Council voted unanimously to form a Sewanee Parks Committee (SPC) to oversee operation of Sewanee parks designated as “community parks.”
Providing background, Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) Parks Chair Stephen Burnett said the SCA oversees the Phil White Dog Park and had recently spearheaded and funded a $68,000 renovation of Elliott Park. The SCA had identified other Sewanee parks needing improvement with the ballpark at the top of the list due to its deplorable condition. The SCA sought the advice of Dixon Myers who led the $75,000 campaign to refurbish the ballpark in 2003.
Burnett and Myers formed a working group that included council representative Cindy Potter, community members, youth sports coordinators, and the University. With the aid of Facilities Management, the group identified four parks as “community parks”: the Dog Park, Elliott Park, the Sewanee Community Center Park, and the Sewanee Youth Ballpark (SYB), which hosts both soccer and baseball teams.
“The need for structure in management of all these parks is more than the Civic Association can deliver,” Burnett said.
Other Sewanee parks were determined to already have a “constituency” in place which provided oversight or were not widely used, Myers noted.
The council’s parks committee will consist of four community members, two members from sports associations, which utilize the SYB, and one council member. The SYB will be the initial priority.
Lengthy discussion of financing preceded the vote authorizing the committee. According to the proposed bylaws, “The SPC does not have the authority to bind the Community Council or the University to financial obligations without express approval from the Community Council or appropriate University official.”
Superintendant of Leases Sallie Green said the community services budget included $11,000 for parks.
“That’s an itty bitty part of what people pay in lease fees,” said council representative Theresa Shackelford.
Myers said he “hoped there would be an annual budget to maintain the ballpark.” He pointed out that lack of maintenance resulted in the ballpark’s current need for major refurbishing.
Council member Phil White, who spearheaded creation of the dog park, asked if the SPC structure would allow the dog park to collect tax-deductible donations for improvements.
Burnett said that gifts to the Community Chest are tax deductible. Donors could earmark their contributions for the dog park.
Vice-Chancellor John McCardell pointed out donations to the University, likewise a nonprofit, could be designated for the dog park.
In other business, Project Funding Committee chair Pixie Dozier said the committee recommended two additional projects for funding. The council approved awarding $6,194 to the American Legion Hall for renovation of the basement and awarding $2,014 to the joint applicants Folks at Home and the Sewanee Senior Citizens Center for purchase of defibrillators to treat life-threatening instances of arrhythmia.
The council also approved a resolution expressing “unreserved gratitude” to Franklin County Highway Commissioner Joe David McBee for initiating the relocation of two crosswalks from downtown Sewanee to dangerous crossing sites on the Mountain Goat Trail.
Sewanee resident Mary Priestley addressed the council about the need for trash pickup on Alto Road, Sherwood Road, Highway 56 in the Jump Off vicinity, Hwy. 41A from the gates to St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School, and Hwy. 41A from downtown to the gates on the Cowan side. The council agreed with Priestley’s suggestion to reintroduce the past practice of an annual community litter pickup day. Set for May 5, the event will target the five sections of highway identified by Priestley. Facilities Management has agreed to collect filled bags, Priestley said, and an anonymous donor would reward the first 25 people to fill bags with a stainless steel water bottle.
Provost Nancy Berner announced a group working on locating a second cell tower in Sewanee had identified an area behind the football field as the preferred site. The central campus location would greatly enhance coverage and help ensure the safety of students who used trails in that area, Berner said. The tower would accommodate Verizon and other cell service providers.
The council meets next on May 21.