Foley dedicates first 'pocket park'

Government Editor
Posted 1/18/23

FOLEY — What had been a vacant lot on U.S. 98 is now the first in a planned series of small parks that will be recreation sites, music venues and playgrounds.The city and the South Baldwin …

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Foley dedicates first 'pocket park'


FOLEY — What had been a vacant lot on U.S. 98 is now the first in a planned series of small parks that will be recreation sites, music venues and playgrounds.

The city and the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce dedicated Pine Street Park on Wednesday, Jan. 11. Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the project's completion was delayed by the pandemic and Hurricane Sally but that supporters continued efforts to complete the park.

"It was supposed to be done within a year, but unfortunately, COVID-19 came along and a little thing called Sally and contractor prices, and it took a lot longer," Hellmich said. "So, today I want to thank all of these groups, particularly our council, who funded this. They had the vision of enhancing our parks, and they bought into that we need to upgrade everything in Foley, and we're working on it."

Hellmich said Foley Main Street, city council, the Chamber, Foley Beautification Board, Historical Commission and city engineering and parks departments worked together on the project. He said AARP provided a grant to place musical instruments, such as xylophones and chimes, around the site for children.

"All of this came together for the design of this park, and we envision this as a park that can be used for musical venues, small plays, outdoor use," Hellmich said. "We might even put a shade structure over this little stage. So, there are some things that we'll probably continue to do."

Hellmich said JaNay Dawson, who was a member of the Baldwin County Board of Education at the time, came to him and City Councilman Charles Ebert III with the idea for the park. The site next to Foley Middle School is owned by the board.

He said the board offered the site for the park.

The parcel on the northwest corner of Pine Street and U.S. 98 was the location of Foley United Methodist Church for many years. Hellmich said the sidewalks in the park are laid out in a cross design to reflect the site's history as a church.

Darrelyn Dunmore, Foley Main Street executive director, said the park will be a place for both children and adults, residents and visitors.

"The biggest thing is we wanted to make this a place for everyone," she said. "We just wanted this to be a place that would bring everyone together."

Travis Valentine of the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce said the park will be a major asset for the region.

"On behalf of the Chamber, we're just so thrilled that the city included us in the opening of this park," Valentine said. "It's beautiful. We continue to see the city continue to make improvements and continue to grow, and we're just so happy to have a wonderful partner like the city of Foley."

City officials said they plan to build a series of small parks in downtown locations to provide recreation sites for strollers and venues to events such as musical performances.