By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously adopted a resolution to accept a $500,000 state grant for development of the Discovery Nature Park.
Board members took the action during their Jan. 9 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Frankie Dakin and seconded by Alderman Don Lowry.
In April 2016, the board approved the city’s application for a Local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The grant request was for a $1 million project with a 50-percent local match, and the city was selected as a grant recipient. But as a condition of receiving the grant, the board was also required to adopt a resolution that restricts the property to public recreation uses.
Millington will provide matching funds of the appraised value of land donated to the city by the Millington Industrial Development Board. The remaining match will come from not more than $500,000 in Capital Projects funds, minus the appraised value of the land and “in-kind” or donated services, materials and/or equipment use.
During discussion shortly before the vote, City Finance Director John Trusty said the Discovery Nature Park will be located on 11.63 acres that are commonly known as the Millington Farmers Market.
Because the land has been appraised at $385,000, Trusty said that will decrease the city’s required cash match to $115,000.
“We’ve also got a number of organizations working hard to provide some other grants to us to help make this thing come to fruition,” he noted. “So, we anticipate that the numbers could get even better.”
Kate Armitage, director of the Millington Arts, Parks and Recreation Department, has said the project is designed to create an inclusive, multi-generational community park.
She expects that “maximizing” the use of the acreage will attract all ages of bikers, walkers and runners, as well as provide learning opportunities for young people and encourage senior citizens to be more active.
Armitage has said the park will include “interactive natural play areas,” outdoor exercise equipment, games like horseshoes and bocce ball and an “education/entertainment amphitheater” that will host neighborhood concerts, gardening seminars, healthy-cooking classes and demonstrations, as well as natural arts and crafts programs.
She expects the project will expand on the mission of the Farmers Market to “promote a green, healthy lifestyle” and also contribute to the Old Town Millington Revitalization Plan.
Trusty said TDEC uses a “standard” contract, which Millington approves for acceptance of all grants provided by the state. But the agency required that “certain functions” be done before it would authorize a grant contract.
While noting that TDEC is “almost ready” to issue the contract, Trusty said the city desires to expedite the process in order to begin work on the project as soon as possible this spring.
But the board needed to approve the city’s acceptance of the grant and authorize Mayor Terry Jones to sign the contract and related documents when they are received from the state.
Trusty acknowledged that the board’s action is subject to the review of City Attorney Charles Perkins and the final budget that is approved.
By Bill Short