Neighborhood to improve College Street Park

The Old Cloverdale Association has raised $18,000 toward a goal to transform College Street Park, a triangle-shaped park located south of Carter Hill Road and bounded by College Street, Westmoreland Avenue, and Magnolia Curve, to a place where families can gather, play and enjoy a little pocket of nature.

An initial phase of improvements was completed in 2008 by Davis Hudson as his Eagle Scout project. It included removing large "trash trees", planting new trees, and installing quality park furniture. Other neighbors took action that resulted in the installation of a beautiful iron fountain in 2009.

With this partial funding secured, the current project can move forward in early 2014. New improvements will include elevating the fountain, surrounding it with a brick seating wall, and centering it on a plaza to make it a true focal point for the park. Bricks from Huntingdon College's Massey Hall will be re-used for the project. If additional funds can be raised, there are plans for a pathway, improved access areas, signage and a doggie bag station. The current improvements plan was approved unanimously by the Architectural Review Board on October 24, 2013.

After months of work by the neighborhood association's Parks and Beautification Committee, chaired by Karen Benton, got approval and permissions from the City of Montgomery Parks and Recreation Department. She approached the City of Montgomery Department of Development to help produce artistic renderings of what the park would look like after all the improvements are completed.  Then a local citizen, Dr. John Neill, stepped up to make a major contribution for the park in order to honor his mother, Mary Dickey Neill ("Miss Huntingdon" 1944-1945), and momentum really began to pick up.

Once the approval of the neighborhood association was secured, the project garnered additional financial support from their representatives City Councilman Arch Lee and County Commissioner Dan Harris. Finally, the committee presented their plan to the Architectural Review Board (ARB) on October 24, 2013, for approval.

Lois Cortell, spokesperson for the project at the ARB meeting referenced a traditional children's book to describe the project.  Lois told the ARB that College Street Park is like 'The Little Engine That Could'.  "It could be so much more than it already is. There is so much potential there if only it could get that little push forward."

In talking about why she got involved with the project, Mrs. Cortell said, "We moved to Montgomery from Portland, Oregon, and were drawn to the area because of its walkability. I walk my daughter, Zoe (3), to this park all the time. When I learned that a committee had just started meeting to talk about how to improve it, I was very excited to get involved."  She went on to say, "We want College Street Park to be a safe place where neighbors can gather, play, and build relationships. It's the little park that could; and with your help, it can."

The project has been broken into phases to keep it realistic and demonstrate a proven ability to complete the work. The group plans to continue its work to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the project and rededicate the park by the end of 2014.  Members of the Old Cloverdale Association's Parks and Beautification Committee agree the amount of support from the community has been gratifying.   The neighborhood association will work with the City of Montgomery Parks Department to complete the work using private contractors, volunteers, and city labor.

The Old Cloverdale Association is comprised of residents and business owners from throughout the Cloverdale area.  The Association's primary function is to preserve the character of the district and foster the continuing sense of an old time neighborhood. Cloverdale features two vibrant entertainment and shopping districts that include restaurants, art galleries, community playhouse, and an independent arts cinema.  The association serves the community as a forum of ideas and information, to promote awareness and security, to initiate public works projects, to protect the district at zoning hearings to prevent improper development, to showcase the neighborhood at its biannual Tour of Homes and Gardens, and to host events such as the Cloverdale Christmas.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Montgomery Development Department