ABOUT THE PARK
CENTRAL PARK LIVINGSTON
140 S Spring St
Livingston, TN 38570
“A dream has come true for Livingston.”
That’s what Mayor Curtis Hayes said about the city’s new Central Park, which opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 19 at noon.
The park, situated just off the historic courthouse square at 140 S. Spring St., features an amphitheater, open grassy area, playground, water feature with splash pad, walking trail and restroom facilities. It’s the long-awaited result of years of planning by a downtown revitalization committee tasked with creating ways to bring more people to the courthouse area to shop, eat and play.
And it was completely grant-funded.
“This is a $1.1 million park,” Hayes said. “Not one penny of the city of Livingston’s taxpayers’ money has gone into it.”
Grant monies flowed into the project from several funding pockets, including the Tennessee departments of Tourism Enhancement, Environment and Conservation, Transportation, and Agriculture, as well as a state diabetes grant. The Livingston Rotary Club even chipped in to fund the amphitheater, which has been named the Rotary Main Stage.
But it all began with a Downtown Revitalization Grant from the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, which Livingston was awarded in 2007. The city was one of just six across the state chosen for the 10-year grant that has since been extended six additional years. The grant allows for $.05 of each $.07 collected in sales tax from the downtown area to be returned for improvements there, as determined by the Livingston Downtown Revitalization Committee consisting of the mayor, Livingston-Overton County Chamber of Commerce representatives and business and home owners within the downtown zone.
It wasn’t until 2012, however, that the wheels began turning toward building a new park. That’s when citizens came together in response to an initiative known as Livingston Vision 2035.
“It was a strategic plan in which the public offered several ideas of things they would like to see happen in Livingston and Overton County,” Hayes said of a city hall meeting that took place with assistance from the Tennessee Municipal Technical Advisory Service. “We evaluated everything from public safety to health, education, restaurants and hotels – things of that nature.”
And recreation, of course.
“One of the top five recommendations was to build a park with an amphitheater, children’s activities and a walking trail,” Hayes said.
Over the past couple of years, citizens have watched it all came together – a state-of-the-art amphitheater complete with LED lighting, sound system and movie screen; a walking trail lined with trees and flowers; benches and trash receptacles to match those around the courthouse square; a large picnic shelter and water bottle filling station; a water feature and guitar-shaped splash pad to reflect Overton County’s “Home of Americana Music” motto; and variety of colorful, all-inclusive play equipment with musical components that go along with the city’s musical heritage theme.
Central Park is enclosed by brick and black iron fencing and includes 10 vendor stations with plug-in areas that will come in handy during downtown festivals. Restroom facilities, which will include an area for breast-feeding mothers, are nearly complete.
Hayes said the park, which is compliant with the American Disabilities Act, offers something for all ages and interests in an attractive, relaxing environment.
“Team work, patience and sound decisions have been the winning formula for Livingston,” he said.
While materials to build the park were completely grant-funded, city workers brought it all together. For that reason, the May 19 ribbon-cutting event will also be City of Livingston Employee Appreciation Day.
“They’ve done such a great job,” Hayes said.