The UEP Trust has broken ground on a $300,000 project to renovate and expand Cottonwood Park. Over the past decade, the park has fallen into disrepair due to neglect and vandalism. With a renewed public interest in community functions, evidenced by the annual fourth of July celebration, the UEP Trust Board found it necessary to improve and expand the park for the enjoyment of the community. Central to the plans are improved access, safety, preservation, enjoyment, and beautification.
The changes to the park are quite extensive. While the plan is to make the improvements over the course of two to three years, the first phase alone will be dramatic. They plan to take out the fencing along the streets so that people can park on the street and enter from there rather than through the main entrance which alleviates some of the parking limitations within the park.
They are also replacing much of the existing playground equipment and building additional playground areas. There will be a toddler playground with new equipment that is safer and more aesthetically pleasing. Some of the existing playground equipment has raised safety concerns for some, leading to the decision for it to be removed entirely. The train, which is a beloved feature of the park, will be completely renovated to ensure functionality for community events and general enjoyment. A splash pad will be one of the new additions they will be building in the second phase of renovation.
In the spring of 2018, they will be replacing and expanding the grass with a huge load of fresh sod. Much of the existing grass had died and become unmanageable. Community involvement will be essential. There was a community cleanup project to help get the park cleaned up for the eventual installation of sod. They will be requesting help for laying the sod when the time comes.
There will be a one-way loop through the park that will eventually be paved with asphalt. This is a part of the second phase of the project, as it will be a considerable expense. In the meantime, the roads will be freshly graveled with road base.
Some have expressed concern about the extent of the renovations, expressing concerns that some of the histories of the park may be impacted. According to the UEP Trust, they will not be removing the historical artifacts from the park, including the shingle mill and the old farm equipment. They will simply be cleaning up and maintaining it.