EDITORIAL: Carthage parks improvements a boon

Jan. 9—Carthage is on the brink of making changes in two of the city's busiest parks that will make the playgrounds therein accessible to more children, including those with limited mobility.

The Carthage City Council's Public Services Committee last month advanced two proposals for contracts with Park & Play Structures, a company based in Tennessee, to replace playground equipment in Municipal Park and Carter Park for a total of about $1.4 million. The council is expected to approve the proposal this month.

"Certainly in the first half of 2023, we'll see new playground structures going into Municipal Park and Carter Park," City Administrator Greg Dagnan said. "That's a very safe bet."

Carthage has been working to better the parks and recreation facilities in that community for years now, and it really shows. This proposal not only continues that effort but also helps make the parks more inclusive, so more residents will be able to use the parks as they are intended.

The city was granted $5 million last year for improvements to Carthage parks by the McCune-Brooks Regional Hospital Trust. A $1.5 million portion of the money was earmarked to build or remodel the bathrooms in each of the five parks. Much of the rest is intended for playground upgrades.

If approved as expected, construction could start as soon as February. The Public Services Committee and city staff are working on proposals for playgrounds at Kellogg Lake Park, Central Park and Griggs Park.

The parks department also marked the completion of a seven-year project this summer at Kellogg Lake, a new $22,000 steel walking bridge that spans a gap in the berm on the east side of the lake.

At6 the dedication of the bridge, Mayor Dan Rife credited the help of the Kellogg Lake Board and its work with the parks department and the city in getting the project accomplished. Rife said he's seen the improvements made by the board over the years.

"I grew up fishing out here," Rife said. "It's great. The improvements that have been made out here, largely thanks to the Kellogg Lake advisory committee, are fantastic. It's a much better and easier place to access and use than it was years ago."

The community has done a lot of seasonal work in the town and the city parks, including decorating for the recent Christmas holiday. Sparkle in the Park turned Central Park into a Christmas display, set up by the employees of Carthage Water & Electric Plant.

The city has clearly made parks a priority, and that helps to make a more livable community for residents as well as making Carthage more attractive to visitors.