OUR OPINION: Music Bend trail adds asset to park system

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s Parks and Recreation Department continues making good use of public land and available funds to expand recreational and leisure access in the 600 acres of parklands the city owns.
Sometime this spring or in early summer a new, two-mile nature trail aptly named Music Bend because of its connections with the life and birthplace of Elvis Presley will open in the extended Veterans Park complex in east Tupelo.
The trail, under construction, will wind along and near Mud Creek, a tributary of Town Creek, and eventually link with Elvis Presley Birthplace Trail, a project that’s part of the $2.8 million Downtown Main Street Enhancement Project, jointly funded by the city and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
The Music Bend trail is funded by $50,000 available as a remainder from a $9.5 million bond issue for Ballard Park enhancements and a new fire station on North Gloster Street, projects already completed.
Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis said access to use the embankments of Mud Creek was granted by the Town Creek Master Water Management District, the immediate overseer of the Town Creek flood plain and tributaries.
In tandem with the Tupelo Public Works Department, Parks and Rec has designed a trail surfaced with rocks and mulching material similar to the cross-country trail in west Tupelo.
Lewis said a bridge would cross the spillway overflow of the Veterans Park Lake but no crossings of Mud Creek are planned, at least in this project.
The trail won’t be a wilderness experience, but it has been designed to be compatible with existing wildlife habitat (deer, raccoons, foxes) and can be an excellent bird-watching venue.
Some undergrowth will be removed to enhance sight lines for numerous varieties of native trees, but no formal landscaping is planned.
Lewis said the department is aware that floodwaters occasionally inundate the Mud Creek plain, but once the rare floodwaters recede, routine maintenance can restore the trail to full use.
Rest stations and scenic vistas will be built along the trail, including the site where a young Elvis Presley swam with childhood friends.
Parks generally have become major cultural and historical assets in many cities of all sizes – providing space to preserve history, like the Presley legacy, and to open up green spaces for public use.
Neighborhood parks, as well as citywide venues, can become a living museum reflecting history and pointing the way ahead when changes threatens to overwhelm what’s valued.
The 600 acres in the Tupelo system now are a major achievement, and we hope more acquisitions are ahead.