(Munford) Parks are great places for bringing families together and for sporting events. The mayor of one Mid-South city even says it’s a reason to move to his city.
However, now some neighbors are saying enough with all the parks. They say they’ve now become a waste of money.
Munford is located just 25 minutes from Memphis. The mayor bills it as a growing city with many recreational activities, but people like Walter Walker say there are actually too many. He said it’s a waste of money.
Less than 6,000 people live in Munford and there are already four parks. The mayor wants to build another one called Hope Park.
That would mean one park for every 1,200 citizens in the small town.
Mayor Dwayne Cole said, “It is a strong suit. We feel like it is an attractive part of our community.”
Cole says the town is aggressive when going after state money for parks. When someone donated land on rural Drummonds Road, he thought it was perfect for another park. It, like the others, will be paid for through a government grant and won’t cost the city a dime.
“It's a $250,000 local match and it's matched by the state,” said Cole.
However, residents say just because it won't cost the city of Munford anything doesn't mean some taxpayers aren't paying.
Walker said, “With crime on the rise between here and Memphis I would say why not take more police or get something that's going to be a direct benefit from the residents. “
The mayor says the money can’t be used for anything else and turning vacant land into a park converts it to a $500,000 asset.
He said, “We could take that property and actually make it, increase the value of it, by developing it into a park.”
While the city can list the park as a half million dollar asset, that's all it can do. State money is involved so the city can no longer sell the land or change zoning ordinances to attract businesses. The mayor says that’s actually a plus for neighbor’s property values.
Cole said, “It would strictly be a park and likely would remain a park forever.”
Walker had a direct reply to that.
Walker said, “Where this is now, I don't think anybody would ever want to come out here and put a business here.”
Walker says this is no deal. He’s also worried about safety. The pond he shares with his neighbor backs up to the proposed park.
“Somebody falls in, drowns, I'm sure the both of us are going to get sued for it,” said Walker.
The mayor said they’ve tried to address those concerns by redesigning the park. It was going to be a splash park that might attract children now it’s more of a walking trail. Still, that’s not been enough to win over Walker.
“You come in a place like this to get away from all this stuff and then to have someone come along because they've gotten some grant money or gift from somebody and try to push this down your throat. That's not fair,” said Walker.
Neighbors contacted State Senator Mark Norris’ office for help. He relayed their concerns to the Department of Environment & Conservation but they found everything was in order with the city’s park application.