The city next week plans to award a $749,599 contract to Prairie Construction to beautify the park with landscaping, new playground equipment, a longer walking trail and a host of other features that some in the community call long overdue. Prairie had offered the best and lowest bid out of five companies competing for the contract, said Tupelo Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis.
Work could begin next month and is expected to end in December or January.
“It’s nice they’re going to do something to that park; it’s so plain over there,” said Sharika Williams, whose house overlooks the park. “My little girl gets mad when I tell her we’re going there instead of Robins-Noble because there are no swings.” There’s also no convenient entrance to the park from the residential area hugging its west and north side.
But that will change with two new entrances – one on Jackson Street, the other on Tolbert Street – and a sidewalk spanning the park’s length on Front Street.
It also will get paved parking lots, a new pavilion and an outdoor amphitheater. Some four or five dozen trees will provide a buffer between the park and Front Street.
At 22 acres, Gumtree Park is Tupelo’s fourth largest behind Ballard, Veterans and Theron Nichols. With two basketball courts and a softball field, it’s one of the more popular public gathering sites.
Lewis said the city has long planned to upgrade the site but only recently set aside funds to do it.
Money for the project comes in part from a nearly $4 million bond approved late last year by the City Council.