Inmates aid park project

First Posted: 7/14/2009

Usually, rainy weather and construction arent a good mix, but lingering wet conditions Tuesday brought an unexpected bonus regarding improvements at Riverside Park courtesy of a group of inmates.
All sections of the city park on Riverside Drive originally were scheduled to be closed Monday and Tuesday so that crews could pave parking areas and do other work that is not feasible when the facility is open.
However, Mother Nature put a damper on that plan, with rain on Monday leaving the site too wet for the paving that day as well as Tuesday.
This disruption is requiring Riverside Park to be closed today and Thursday instead.
Tuesday wasnt a wasted day, however, thanks to the inmates, who spruced up the playground on the park grounds with some new paint.
Though some areas were still too wet to pave today, we were still able to capitalize on the closing of the park by completing some much-needed painting, city Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said Tuesday.
The playground, which is heavily utilized year-round, was constructed for the city by the Build A Dream Foundation just over five years ago, Alexander added. Along with raising funds for the project, community residents pitched in to build the playground.
Inmates from Forsyth Correctional Center, under the supervision of Community Work Squad Officer John Groves, lent their painting talents to the playground that includes an array of wooden structures of eye-catching colors.
When a related restoration project for the nearby Ararat River began during the spring, city recreation officials said it would disrupt activities and reservations of park facilities and require some closings for safety purposes.
If the weather cooperates so the paving can be completed, Riverside Park will reopen Friday. Any other closings will be reported as soon as possible, Alexander said.
In addition to the playground, the park contains two picnic shelters, a ballfield and a basketball court.
Besides the paving, park improvements occurring in conjunction with the streambank restoration include a trail head for Mount Airys second greenway, a new park entrance sign, a canoe-launching point and landscaping.
The overall project is scheduled to be finished either late this year or in early 2010.

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