The good, the bad and the ugly: WREG surveys the state of city parks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Now that the temperatures are warming up and the rain has cleared, we can finally get outside and enjoy this spring weather.

Of course, with school ending next month, that also likely means spending some time at your local parks.

Plenty of Memphis parks are ready to go, but others in desperate need of repair.

WREG visited more than 20 parks over the past two weeks and found everything from busted water fountains to broken playground equipment.

Visitors to Flowering Peach Park in Hickory Hill are greeted with overgrown grass, glass on the playground, and cracked equipment, some sprayed with gang graffiti. Shell casings can be found among all the trash and litter.

Not too far away, the front could use a cutting at Raines Road Park, and in the same area at Emerald Park, there's a broken swing and missing equipment.

At Booth Park in South Memphis, old basketball goals are covered in profanity and one doesn't even have a net.
Another park that that could use a serious spruce-up is Orange Mound Park. The padding on playground, designed a bit different than others, is lifting and lots of the equipment looks outdated and full of rust.

"We have made strides in improving the parks in areas within our inner city, but there are some other improvements that need to be made," said Memphis City Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen, who chairs the parks committee.
Orange Mound is also in her district. Swearengen says routine repairs and upgrades are critical, but she continues to hear complaints from constituents.

Some area parks and rec centers don't have the same level of amenities as others.

"We want our tennis courts in the inner city to look like those out east, we want our golf courses to look like those out east," Swearengen said.

This current year's budget included $1 million specifically for major maintenance at tennis courts and another $2 million for updates and repairs at community, senior centers and parks to be spread "equally across each council district."

"If we could put a little bit more focus and get those facilities where they should be and as enjoyable as those that are in other parts of the city, I think we will then be working in an equitable manner."

Not all Memphis parks are in need of major repair, though.

"We like to come out on a pretty day you know, let the kids play, run around and enjoy themselves," said Alexis Mayfield, who was at Lewis-Davis Park in Orange Mound.

Lewis-Davis' basketball court recently got a facelift.

Several other parks are in good condition, like Wagner, Binghampton and Southside park.

Frayser Park has an exercise trail, updated tennis courts  and a curved pool slide.

"It should be a park like this, accessible, like in walking distance to every neighborhood," said Anthony Johnson, who likes to stay fit by getting exercise with his girlfriend in Frayser Park.

Johnson grew up in Frayser and still lives nearby and takes pride in the fact his community has park like this one.

City workers are scheduled to cut the grass at parks roughly every two weeks. Also, the Parks Division recently completed an inventory of assets at every park, ranking them on a scale of one to five. They plan to use that data to prioritize projects for next year.

The new city budget includes increased funding for parks services.

But for those parks in need of repair, Memphians like Johnson say an investment in parks, is actually an investment in people.

"To fix those parks is something small for the city to do, it`s coin in the bucket. They should definitely make that a priority."