HAMLET – The Hamlet City Council set a special meeting Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. for the discussion of new playground equipment for the improvement of South Hamlet Park.
Mayor William Bayless opened the special session by expressing remorse for the neglect of South Hamlet park in lieu of renovations to two other Hamlet City parks, W.D. James and Memorial Parks.
City Manager, Jonathan Blanton, laid out the context and plan to acquire the new equipment for the park.
“The City of Hamlet is dedicated to its citizens, and we want to provide South Hamlet’s children with a safe place to play,” Blanton said on LIVE at 5. “We don’t want to let any issues or citizens to fall through the cracks, so this is something we approved immediately to get done.”
One crucial point is that grant money was used to revamp the other two aforementioned parks, and the plan would be to do the same for the South Hamlet park. However, whether or not the grant will be approved by the Foundation For The Carolinas remains unclear as a decision will not be made until the third quarter deadline at noon Friday.
Council member, Jonathan Buie, placed a dual motion on the floor to approve the grant process and to proceed with the order and installation of the park equipment immediately.
Some members seemed concerned about funding the park with only city revenue versus grant money.
Buie, via telephone, spoke out saying, “If we don’t get the grant, we are going to provide kids with a park to play in. All I keep hearing is everybody talking about wanting to add parks and do things for the citizens. Well, here’s our opportunity. So, why are we going to throw it away.”
The motion was passed with a vote of 3-2. Council members, Eddie Martin, Jonathan Buie, and Jesse McQueen voted in favor and Wendy Massagee and David Lindsey voted against.
The South Hamlet Park, formerly known as, Larry “Jack” Breeden Park, locally known as the “Big Park”, has been a longstanding landmark in the Leroy Hubbard Homes community and occupies a large lot at the corner of Lackey and South Bridges streets. While there is a football training field which doubles as a soccer field and basketball courts that are well used in season, the playground only consists of a set of old monkey bars and a swing set.
The original playground was overhauled for safety reasons last spring and a need for a replacement park was brought to the council’s attention by a local resident, Mary McLaurin earlier in the week.
Having recently visited the neighborhood, Mayor Bayless stated regretfully, “It’s a nice area down there, I don’t know how we overlooked it.”
The project is slated to take place immediately, costing roughly $21,000, with construction lasting about eight weeks. For more information regarding the renovation of South Hamlet Park, call the City of Hamlet at (910) 582-2651.