Crestwood Park officially reopens, as Birmingham Mayor William Bell stumps for support of bond initiative

Crestwood Park.JPGChildren play on the new playground at Crestwood Park this morning. (News photo/Dawn Kent)BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Birmingham city officials and residents of the Crestwood neighborhood turned out this morning to formally re-open Crestwood Park following a $2.56 million renovation project.

The park, which dates to the 1940s, was revamped over the past 10 months. It opened earlier this month, but an official ribbon-cutting was held today.

Improvements include new wildflower plantings, a children’s playground, a “tailgate lawn” for picnicking and updates to the pavilion, patio, pool, tennis courts and walking track.

Mayor William Bell and Councilwoman Valerie Abbott both called for support in the Oct. 9 referendum on a $150 million bond initiative for city projects, including parks, street improvements and economic development.

On the ballot, citizens will be asked for their support of bond money in different categories; if approved, the Birmingham City Council will decide specific projects.

Bell asked for support of the measure “so we can make sure Birmingham continues to grow and all of our parks look like this wonderful park.”

Whit Macknally of Macknally Land Design and Kris Nikolich of Design Initiative, both Crestwood residents, spoke about their firms’ work on the park.

Macknally said natural, strong and sustainable materials were used in the construction, so it would hold up amid frequent use. There also was a concerted effort — through flyers, emails and Facebook — to gauge residents’ opinions on the new features.

“Our whole design philosophy was to make it a reflection of its neighborhood,” he said of the park.

Sister Mary Oliver, secretary of the North Crestwood Neighborhood Association, gave an account of its history.

The city bought the land for the park, on Crestwood Boulevard, in 1946. Nothing happened until the early 1950s, when civic groups began collecting money for it.

The city got involved then, clearing land for the tennis courts, a baseball diamond and other features. Residents also pitched in, building barbecue pits and doing other work.

Years later, a grassroots effort in the neighborhood prompted the most recent renovations.

“This has been a neighborhood project since its  inception,” Oliver said. “From the beginning, it’s been a joint effort between the neighbors and the city.”

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