FLORENCE — Temperatures dropped low Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop more than a dozen community members from turning out to the Edgemont pocket park to give it a little TLC.
The triangular park is nestled within Palmer Street, Ingleside Avenue and Kirk Street and is mostly green space, often overlooked by most passersby.
“That’s what happens sometimes with pocket parks,” said District 4 Councilwoman Michelle Eubanks. “They become part of the neighborhood, and you don’t think about them, but the city does maintain them. Let’s bring it to life. Let’s see what it can become.”
More than a year ago, city officials met with residents in the area to ask how they used the park, and what the city could do to make it more beneficial.
“We wanted to give them more of a community gathering place that would be adjacent to the swing set that’s there, but also provide more of that park feel,” Eubanks said.
While many of the residents said they wanted to keep a lot of the green space, they still wanted something that could provide some shelter, and make the park a more viable place for birthday parties and other small events.
They agreed upon a small pavilion to go near the swing set.
Several Shoals-area entities provided volunteers to complete the pavilion Saturday.
According to Eubanks, materials and labor were donated by Lowe’s, Rock Solid Ready Mix, Tennessee River Rental, Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ and the Florence Parks and Recreation and Street departments.
District 4’s Chick-fil-A and Lenny’s donated meals for the volunteers.
Eubanks said the city employees chose to work on the project off the clock.
“They have a skill, and they saw that they would be able to use that skill, and they’re doing that for us,” she said. “They didn’t have to do it, but they did.”
Lowe’s contributed to the project as part of its Lowe’s Heroes program, which typically provides help for local nonprofits and K-12 schools.
MaLeah Chaney was one of six Lowe’s employees who came Saturday. She said Lowe’s also provided some gravel and extra greenery to go around the pavilion.
“We’ve got the shrubs and the pansies to go around the pavilion, and gravel, and then later on we’ll do some pretty colors and stuff for the front so it will be more welcoming,” she said.
The park project was one of several scheduled for Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ’s community service day Oct. 26, but was postponed due to rain.
Leon Edmond said he enjoyed helping out with the labor. He recently moved back to Florence after leaving about 35 years ago, during which time he spent a few years helping Habitat for Humanity build houses.
As a former resident of Duntreath Avenue near the park, he said he was happy to see the park get an update.
“At the time I lived over here, there were a lot of small children that lived in this neighborhood,” he recalled. “I wondered then why they didn’t have facilities over here. I’m sure all the people in this neighborhood really appreciate it and will actually use it.”
In addition to building the pavilion, volunteers provided four new picnic tables and offered to repaint the swing set.
“Hopefully, with any luck, we will also install a sidewalk on the Ingleside portion, which will provide a little safety, but the shelter needed to come first,” Eubanks added.
She said she was blown away by the enthusiastic support the project received.
“Nobody had to do this on a cold Saturday morning, but they chose to,” she said. “That’s when you know you live in a community that cares and wants to make it better. In this season of thanksgiving, this is the least we can do for our neighbors and friends.”