Fulton clock work under way

Itawamba County StockAdam Armour/The Itawamba Times

Work has begun ticking ahead on a small garden park in downtown Fulton.

Last week, city employees began digging earth in order to run electricity to the small, empty lot at the corner of Main Street and Clifton in preparation for the installation of a large, four-faced clock that will stand at its heart. The process of laying the foundation for the clock, followed by its installation, is expected to take several weeks.

Fulton aldermen voted to begin the process of installing the clock during a recent meeting. The clock was donated to the city months ago and has been in storage inside the Fulton Street Department since its arrival. City officials seemed eager to push forward with its installation.

“I’d like to have the clock standing before the fall,” Mayor Lynette Weatherford told the board.

The installation of the clock is only a portion of the planned project, which includes turning the lot into a landscaped park of sorts. The proposed plans, designed by Ellen Harrison of Landscape Services of Tupelo, who also designed Fulton’s Playgarden Park, feature covered benches, sidewalks leading to the post office and downtown area and a variety of plants, trees and flowers. These include juniper, drift rose, Asian jasmine, Eastern redbud and Indian Hawthorne.

The clock itself will stand at the center of a circular brick wall filled with plants and will rise a dozen feet or so from the ground. When it strikes an hour, it can either sound with traditional chimes or play a variety of tunes, depending on the whims of the board.

Even with work under way, the board has not yet signed off on the proposed landscaping plans. Work on the park’s landscaping won’t begin until some undetermined point in the future, after the clock is already standing.

“We can get the clock set on our property and handle the rest of the landscaping later,” Weatherford said.

Plans for the proposed park were made public in early August and have, city officials said, garnered a good deal of positive feedback. However, the owners of businesses located parallel to the park were concerned about the potential loss of the parking spaces attached to the lot itself … spaces used by people patronizing their businesses. Currently, this lot doesn’t have defined parking spaces, though around six cars can comfortable squeeze into the area. The proposed plans had only four defined parallel parking spaces.

“We can’t stand to lose those parking spaces,” said Glyn Hughes, owner of Hughes Insurance. “I’m not against the beautification … but we can’t stand to lose any of those spaces.”

Alderman Joey Steele suggested that perhaps the parking lot should remain as it is, though with repainted lines in order to make it clearer how vehicles are supposed to pull into their spaces and make the area look a bit more uniform. The rest of the board seemed to agree with this plan.

Along with forging ahead on the park project, aldermen voted to purchase one of a series of six markers that will be placed around the city, each of which will designate one of the area’s significant landmarks. For example, Itawamba Community College will purchase a marker for the school; another will be purchased and placed outside the 150-year-old Cates-Gaither House.

The marker, which costs an estimated $1,800, will detail the 175-year history of the city. It will be placed near the new clock.

adam.armour@journalinc.com