By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Children will have a new place to play when they are not in school, thanks to an agreement between the city and the school district.
Playgrounds at seven Tupelo elementary schools now will be open to the public after school hours and on weekends under the arrangement, in which the city and school district worked out details on insurance and liability.
It includes the fields, playgrounds and parking lots of Carver, Lawhon, Milam, Pierce Street, Rankin, Thomas Street and Lawndale schools. The agreement covers several city-owned properties that are available for use by the schools: Ballard Park East, Dot Cooper Kelly Park, Rob Leake City Park, Robins Field, Theron Nichols Park and Thomas Street Park. Many of the areas already have been used by the schools.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed Jr. announced the agreement at Tuesday’s Tupelo school board meeting, and the board voted to approve it. Reed said he first had the idea after attending a conference in New Orleans on reducing childhood obesity.
Reed said the goal was to add seven new city playgrounds at no expense to taxpayers. The playgrounds will be open to the public during non-school daylight hours but will be closed at dark. Tupelo police will be vigilant in their patrols to ensure that isn’t abused, Reed said.
“This will immediately open neighborhood parks for children and families to enjoy,” Reed said.