Perry Sampson Park Celebrates with Ribbon Cutting

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July 5, 2022 (Photo Album) - Community members celebrated with the City of Center at a reopening/rededication ribbon cutting event held at Perry Sampson Park Wednesday, June 15, 2022, following the completion of work done to upgrade the park.

City of Center Mayor David Chadwick welcomed everyone to the grand opening of the newly updated park.

“We are excited about today, aren’t we Mrs. Ellington. Who is happier? You or me or Baby Lou? This has been a project that has been a long time coming - 10 years, 5 applications - and they said yes! So, we are very pleased to see Texas Parks and Wildlife with us today.” Mayor Chadwick continued, “This is about a $350,000 plus project that we have done here, to an area that has been overlooked, has been vandalized from time to time, and no real reason why other than the fact that life is that way. Community came together and says we really want our park to look like something, we want to add it to our neighborhood, we want our neighborhood to improve because the park is there. And as you look around as you drove in you could see some of the improvements that individuals are doing to their own property and that’s what the catalyst of this is supposed to be. As I said about $350,000 plus in total expenditures to revamp this area. $150,000 of it came from the grant with Texas Parks and Wildlife, $75,000 came from Tyson Foods as their contribution for wanting to be part of a community that they do business with, $75,000 and a little extra thrown in for things that just happened from the City of Center. All together, three entities working together, plus a neighborhood of interested people, of volunteers, determined to make it work finally made today possible."

Tyson Complex Manager Vince Lucas was invited to speak, “Center, Texas is a great place to be and we are so happy to be a part of this community and to do something great for the community. We’re just thankful to be here and all the good that we can do to be a part of it. I’ll end with what I started with… Center, Texas is a great place to be and this is great for this community!”

Matt Mears, Project Coordinator with Texas Parks and Wildlife Recreation Grants branch, was next to offer his thoughts, “Congratulations on your new park! It looks wonderful. These projects only happen when the community can come together and work together to create something as beautiful as this.” He explained the grant was supported through the Local Parks Grant program, “The funding stream for that program comes from the state sales tax on sporting goods. So, that’s supported through the Texas Recreation and Parks account which is supported through the Texas Legislature. I would like to recognize the Texas Legislature for supporting this program over the years and leading us to all these successes that we’ve had with it. Once again, this is your park, this is your community. I would like to recognized the work of the City of Center and Tyson Foods for bringing the community together to create something like this. Yeah, congrats, and enjoy your park!”

Mayor Chadwick did add Texas Park and Wildlife has been a part of every park in Center. The park renovations now include a common theme which shows the unity of the parks system in Center. Mayor Chadwick expressed a final thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife for their support of the city’s park system.

Next, City Manager, Chad Nehring spoke, “We’ve worked with a number of committees over the last 10 years that helped come up with different concepts and different designs.” Nehring gave special recognition to Mark Spencer who is founder and owner of MHS Planning and Design and has done the majority of the parks work in the community for the last 20 plus years. Spencer helped redesign the park about three times during the different application cycles with TPWD. Nehring continued, “But this has been a 10 year process in the making and finally getting an approval of the grant and getting the funding together... Tyson coming along as partner to really make it happen and really pushed the grant application over the top.” Nehring also gave recognition to Jason Mitchell, City of Center Recreational Director, along with the city’s internal parks staff who did a lot of the work to finish out the project. He ended by giving thanks again to all involved and saying, “We are grateful to cut the ribbon today!” 

City of Center Council member Joyce Johnson spoke with heartfelt appreciation for the day, “When I started on the Council 10 years ago, 2011 I think, I went and thought I was going to get this park done right away. I mean I was just getting angrier and angrier and angrier because I couldn’t get this park and one of my council members said ‘all we have is $75,000’ and I thought well whatever that will fix let’s get it down there. I found out later, that won’t even do the restroom. But I thank everybody, I really do thank you, thanks Tyson, thanks [Texas Parks and Wildlife], thanks the Mayor, thanks everybody, especially these young men and women, they are doing their part.” Mrs. Johnson ended by saying she can enjoy a rest now.

Members of the community who have been a champion for the park project are Baby Lou Gardner, Council Members Jerry Lathan and Joyce Johnson along with park committee members: Nichole Ellington, Co-President; Jeremy Small, Co-President; Tomiko Moore, Treasurer; LaShalla McCollister and Melody Daniels, Secretary; Delbert Jackson, Consultant; Alex Cloudy; Dedtrick McCollister; Jamie Jenkins; Rodrick Gardner; Rose Jackson; Dorise Netherly; Lisa Carpenter; and Ben Small who all were extensively active. Other members of the community also served on the committee and their help was invaluable.

Nichole Ellington, on behalf of the park committee, expressed appreciation to all who have helped make the parks renovation happen, “To say thank you for everything is not enough! The council, the design team, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association and Tysons Foods we appreciate it so much."

Perry Sampson Park, a 4 acre neighborhood park, was established in the 1980s. In 2019, citizens came together with concerns of the neighborhood park on Garrett Street. After meeting several times the group decided to attend city council meetings to express their concerns. At that time matching funds and the Texas Parks and Wildlife grant were discussed. A committee of community members was organized to coordinate with the city council regarding renovation wishes. The renovation project included complete replacement of all playground equipment and swings. The existing basketball court was resurfaced with a lighted covered pavilion added to the court. The existing pavilion was refurbished. Handicap-accessible routes to all park features have been built as well as partial perimeter fencing. The park renovation also included, new grass areas, picnic tables, benches, additional trash cans, improved drainage and an iconic entrance.

Perry Sampson Park is located at 806 Garrett Street. The park is open to the public from sunrise until 11pm daily.

The park committee is also excited to begin a phrase 2 collaboration very soon for renovation of the park restrooms. If anyone would like to make a contribution to help finish off the project, contact Jason Mitchell, City of Center Recreational Director.