Danville’s Westmoreland Park comes back to life with ribbon-cutting for its redevelopment

After more than seven years in the making, a refurbished park in the Westmoreland community is ready to provide lasting memories for future generations.

City officials and a local group held a ribbon-cutting for the redeveloped Westmoreland Park on Thursday.

For Danville Mayor Alonzo Jones, the freshened-up park is part of the city’s efforts to revitalize its public spaces, which have included recently completed splash parks.

“We are here no longer at Westmoreland playground, but we’re at Westmoreland Park,” Jones told an enthusiastic crowd of about 200-300 people. “Our parks and our playgrounds are back.”

Jones was referring to the recently completed Third Avenue splash pad that opened about a month ago and the newly built Doyle J. Thomas Park splash pad at Green Street. A ribbon-cutting event will be held for it in the next couple of weeks, he said.

Also, a groundbreaking will be held for the start of construction of a splash pad at Ballou Park in the coming weeks, Jones said.

The revamped Westmoreland Park behind the former Westmoreland Elementary School in the historic African American Holbrook-Ross neighborhood includes a new basketball court, landscaping and a new playground.

Upcoming features at Westmoreland Park will include new shelters, a walking trail and seating area.

“The plan is to have several new amenities in this area,” Ralph Price told everyone during remarks at the event. Price serves on the Westmoreland Park Project Committee.

Clyde McCoy, president of the Westmoreland Neighborhood Organization, told the Danville Register & Bee during an interview at the event that the new walking trail should be complete in about 10 to 12 months.

“We wanted the park to be something for all ages,” McCoy said.

During Thursday’s event, attendees feasted on free hot dogs and refreshments, listened to music, played basketball and spent time in the park. Children had fun in a bounce house provided for the celebration.

Sharon McCoy, chair of the special projects committee for the organization, read aloud written childhood memories of the park from Deborah J. Hubbard Dupree and Carl Hubbard.

Danville Vice Mayor Gary Miller, who serves on the Westmoreland Park Project Committee, said memories is one of the main reasons for the importance of the park.

Many residents have played football or soccer or other sports at the green space when they were kids, Miller said.

“It’s a park for the people,” he said.

The park is on the property of the former Westmoreland School. The project started in 2016 when the organization worked with the city of Danville and the Danville Regional Foundation to upgrade a playground and shelter area.

“Bringing this vision to life is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Westmoreland Neighborhood Organization, our local residents and the entire city and community,” Clyde McCoy said during his remarks. “We are excited to open this beautiful space for the community to enjoy.”

McCoy told the Register & Bee there were plans to have intramural basketball games for children at the park.

The green space has been used for a variety of events, including the city’s annual National Night Out celebration, Rock the Block and voter registration events, among others.

According to a 2017 Westmoreland Park Master Plan Report, Westmoreland Elementary School and Langston High School replaced the city’s first public school for Blacks, which was built in 1880.

The goal was to create a space for neighborhood recreation and special events.

It was in January 2017 that the group worked with Site Collaborative — a professional landscape architect — to develop a plan and get early estimates of costs.

Fundraising efforts led to a groundbreaking event hosted in December.

Money for the project came from the Danville Regional Foundation, the city of Danville, the J.T. Minnie Maude Charitable Trust, the Community Foundation of the Dan River Region, the Womack Foundation, and many other foundation, corporate and individual donors.

The Westmoreland Neighborhood Organization is a nonprofit that began in 1990 as a social club where African-American community members gathered for enjoyment and to share ideas for ways to make their neighborhood a better place to live.

Under the leadership of Shirley Coles, the social club became an established nonprofit in 1994.

The group’s mission is to bring the Westmoreland community together while enhancing health, wellness and quality of life for its residents. Its priority is to fulfill its mission through redevelopment of the former Westmoreland Elementary School property into Westmoreland Park.

More money will be raised to grow the park, which will be maintained by Danville Parks and Recreation.

Original Article Here (by John Crane, Danville Register & Bee)