On Wednesday, the City Council will vote on upgrades to the 6.9 acre Lewis Park at 475 Campbell Hill St. between Church Street and Kennesaw Avenue.
“It is a nice little park tucked into one of our quiet neighborhoods,” Councilwoman Annette Lewis said.
The Parks and Recreation Department is requesting $35,200 from the 2009 parks bond, which would leave $200,000 remaining in the funds for Lewis Park.
Lewis said she hopes the latest addition to the playground and dog park area finishes the “wish list” for Lewis Park.
Any leftover money could then be allotted for other projects, most likely the improvements to the Lawrence Street Recreation Center or a new facility at the Elizabeth Porter Recreation Center site, Lewis said.
“We don’t have to spend the money just to spend the money,” Lewis said.
However, Linda Williams, who lives in Charlton Forge subdivision on the southwest border of Marietta, said there could be a much larger investment.
Williams sent the Parks and Recreation Department sketches for needed improvements to Lewis Park that mostly revolve around the condition of the grass in the winter, where pools of water and muddy soil make it practically impossible to use.
“I would like to see a lot more done up here,” Williams said.
Williams said she would like to see the dog area be resurfaced with synthetic grass, but knows the cost would be about $200,000.
Williams laid the artificial turf in her own front and back yard three years ago, and said it is easy to maintain and durable.
Make way for the little guys
Rich Buss, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, said he was contacted by the neighborhood about building an off-leash area for small dogs and puppies at Lewis Park.
Buss presented an $8,600 plan to the City Council that includes an 80 by 40 foot patch.
“The improvements will include a new fencing to enclose the new area and watering station,” Buss said.
The park’s one large area designated for dogs to run free has been causing conflicts. Williams said the scraps have not be intentional, but more because the larger animals are bounding over the smaller dogs that need their own space.
The Lewis Park rules state there is a limit of three animals per handler and each dog must be licensed and vaccinated with current tags displayed on the collar.
Marilyn Carney, who is the widow of late Marietta Councilman John Carney, said she lives off Campbell Hill and walks her two standard poodles to the park almost every evening.
She said the chance to play is great exercise for her dogs and leaves them contented for the rest of the day.
“The No. 1 benefit is that it socializes the dogs,” Carney said
Although a 15-minute drive through stop lights and traffic, Williams said Lewis Parks is still the closest dog park for her three mixed-breed large rescue dogs.
“People from all over the city go (to Lewis Park),” said Lewis, who added there is a need in Marietta for residents to have a place to “take their dogs to be dogs.”
A place for kids to be kids
The excessive rains over the last several months have also created a nuisance and even safety concerns on the other side of Lewis Park, where families allow their children to run free.
The maroon, green and tan equipment is a highlight of the park, but across the sidewalk that encircles the playground area, there is a swing section that is in a much worse condition.
Buss presented the council with a $26,600 plan to fix the worsening erosion problem, which includes a better drainage system to capture runoff and channel it into an underground storm system.
Tammy Wils, who lives in a townhome at McLaren Gates off Roselane Street just four blocks away from Lewis Park, said her family avoids the area if it has recently rained.
But in perfect weather, Wils said her husband Doug, who is a stay-at-home dad, takes their almost 3-year-old daughter, Amanda, to Lewis Park at least three times a week.
“She goes to a playground every sunny day,” Wils said.
There is an existing sidewalk connecting the street to the playground, but staff will also add sidewalks connected the parking lot to the concreted path.
Currently, it is a worn away portion of grass, but the budget also includes a $2,250 sodding entry.
Under many tall shade trees, an adult bench swing of rusted metal is partially fallen and under a different swing designed for small children there is a slope of dirt that runs off onto the sidewalk.
The plans include mulching under the kid swing and taking out the large swing to replace it with a picnic table.
There will also be new picnic tables added under the three shade structures the city built in the dog area in 2010.
Carney said the nicer tables were a big request that the Parks and Recreation Department promised to her and Williams.
Both women have played an active role in spurring the latest attention to Lewis Park.
“It has become very dear to my heart,” Carney said. “It is an enjoyable area to live across from.”