March 30, 2006
McGuffy Park in downtown Charlottesville has been around for over 60 years, and not much has changed, until now. Residents nearby are putting their own money in to give the old park a face lift.
Residents say there are a few issues with the park as it stands now. One is the safety--there is no fence. Another issue is the access--there is only one entrance. They say the change is long overdue.
"It's an old tired park," said Mike Svetz, Director of the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation.
That's why neighbors near McGuffy Park decided two years ago it needed a face lift.
"We really thought about what enormous potential this has as a learning space and a community gathering space," said Kristen Suokko who lives near McGuffy Park.
Without any money, the reconstruction could've taken years. To speed up the process, the North Downtown Neighborhood Association decided to foot part of the bill.
"It's extremely helpful in the renovation of a park to have such passion and buy-in from your primary users," said Svetz.
During Wednesday's budget meeting, Charlottesville City Councilors put the reconstruction on the top of next year's to-do list. Among the changes is a new enclosed playground, basketball court, and better street access.
"Part of the plan that we have developed includes two new entry ways at either corner which are both very natural access points from the downtown mall," said Suokko.
McGuffy Park is just one of several parks needing a makeover. Park officials say those changes aren't far behind.
"We will begin redesign efforts in particular for Meade and Forest Hills Park this Spring and Summer," said Svetz.
In the meantime, downtown residents like Kristen Suokko say they're looking forward to having a new and improved park right in their own backyard.
"I think everyone is really looking forward to the possibilities," said Suokko.
The reconstruction is set for some time next year; the total bill comes out to about $750,000, and the North Downtown Neighborhood Association plans on paying a third of the bill.