Westover opens new park

Residents and other supporters gathered Monday to celebrate the official opening of Westover&8217;s first park.

&8220;This is kind of a dream come true, I guess,&8221; said Mayor Mark McLaughlin. The dream, he said, has been developing for more than 14 months. &8220;It&8217;s been a great experience and a great result.&8221;

The new park includes restroom facilities, a playground area, two open-air pavilions, three youth soccer-sized fields and a quarter-mile walking trail. It also has a pump house, which provides well water to irrigate the fields, and a weather siren provided through a grant from the Emergency Management Agency.

&8220;This is the first weather siren in this area,&8221; McLaughlin said, adding the next closest would be in Chelsea or Harpersville.

&8220;This has been so well received by the community,&8221; the mayor said. &8220;During construction there were people using the park. As soon as we got gravel down, people were walking on the trail.&8221;

The project was a joint effort of the Westover community and the county. McLaughlin said his council will be paying $50,000 for the park over time and the county, through much encouragement from County Manager Alex Dudchock, made up the difference, some of it through grants.

County landscape architect Jim Phillips said, &8220;Alex has really been the instigator for park development in the county. He got it going and handed it off to us, and we just went with it.&8221;

Phillips said members of the county highway department did the majority of the site work, with other help coming from community and county volunteers. &8220;I think it turned out really nice,&8221; he said. &8220;You give this park some time to grow, and it will just get better.&8221;

As part of the park&8217;s ribbon cutting, the Westover council hosted a lunchtime party with hot dogs, cookies and lemonade. &8220;It&8217;s a great day for the county and a great day for the city,&8221; McLaughlin said. &8220;I can&8217;t say enough about the county and how good they&8217;ve been to work with.&8221;

With the park&8217;s completion, the mayor said Westover will continue with plans to expand other community spaces such as Town Hall and the library.

&8220;We know growth is coming, and change is coming,&8221; he said. As it does, he would like the town to provide what is needed, such as parks and weather sirens. But McLaughlin added, &8220;We&8217;ve got to take it one thing at a time.&8221;

Westover&8217;s new park is located on Highway 280 behind Town Hall.