NYC residents donate $1.7M to build Fulton park

The city of Fulton is receiving a sizable donation from a future resident: A new park.
Last Friday, Fulton Mayor Paul Walker revealed plans for a new downtown city park, which will be built courtesy of a $1.7 million grant provided by soon-to-be-residents Michael and Julie Waldorf.
The enclosed park, which will be constructed between West Wiygul and West Cedar streets, near the Itawamba County Development Council building, will feature multiple pavilion areas, two enclosed playground areas, an open lawn, large fountain and dense landscaping. Work on the park is set to begin in the near future with a 2009 completion goal.
“I think the park will just get worn out with usage,” Walker said. “It will be a great place for people who work around the courtsquare to stop and enjoy their lunches.”
Julie Waldorf, a native of Fulton, and her husband are currently in the process of building a home in Fulton. The New York City residents said they were looking for ways to contribute to the area, and a new park seemed like a natural fit.
“Once we decided to build a home down here, we started taking a look at Fulton in terms of what it has and what it needs,” Michael Waldorf explained. “In our opinion, Itawamba County needed more places for children to just go out and play … We just thought there ought to be more.”
Waldorf said he worked with Bryan Wilson of Itawamba FIRST Foundation on choosing a location for the new park.
“We proposed to enter into a joint venture with the city,” Waldorf said, explaining that if the city could secure the necessary land, the Waldorphs would put together a plan for the park and pay for its construction.
“This is a huge shot in the arm of our budget,” Walker said. Approximately $125,000 had previously been set aside by the city board to create a park area in downtown Fulton. The Waldorf’s donation, however, will allow the city to redirect that money toward other projects.
“It’s amazing to have someone coming in from New York City to contribute this type of thing to our community,” Walker continued. “It’s a blessing to our community.”
According to Waldorf, criteria for the park included multiple enclosed playspaces for children and a large, open space for gatherings.
“We wanted some big space for people to be able to open up and relax; maybe have some space for social gatherings; but most particularly, since we’re parents of young kids, have a place for little kids to go play.”
According to Julie Waldorf, the downtown Fulton area was chosen as the park’s site because of a personal fondness she holds for the area.
“I’ve always loved the square. To me, it was the most intriguing part of town,” she said. “I’m really hoping the park will bring more people in and give people more places to hang out and hopefully bring more businesses to the square.
“The best thing about a park is that everyone can enjoy it,” she added.
Although initial plans have already been made, Michael Waldorf said that nothing is set in stone. In order to help the park belong to the entire community, he said he’d like to be able to accept donated benches and trees to be named in honor of local people.
“This is not about us; this is about the community,” Waldorf said, adding that he hopes this is the first of several projects of which he can be a part.
“We want to have places for families to bring their children and relax. We hope this is the first of more than one,” he said, adding that the community’s wishes would help dictate any further projects.
“What we do, we want it to be used and to last,” he said. “If we do anything, it’s going to be whatever the town wants to do. We want to ensure it will be there for a long time.”
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing adam.armour@itawamba360.com or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.

Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times