COLUMBIA — Before dedication ceremonies for two new Columbia neighborhood parks began Saturday morning, parents and their children were already playing on the playgrounds as other visitors walked their dogs on the trail.
Columbia Parks and Recreation dedicated Longview Park and Louisville Park, located within two miles of each other, formally adding them to the growing number of parks located in Columbia.
“We aim to have a neighborhood park within a half a mile of each residence,” said Mike Hood, director of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation department. “We want people to be able to walk to the park. We want a place where kids can gather and play and be close to home.”
The two parks have been in various stages of development for almost fourteen years, Hood said. Longview Park, located at 4980 Gillespie Bridge Road, was originally part of the land required as a buffer between the city sewer treatment plant and residential housing. Louisville Park, located at 806 Louisville Drive, was farmland.
The weather was sunny as several people attended both ceremonies, walking to the parks from their houses. Parks and Recreation employees handed out blue Frisbees to children while adults got sunglasses holders and water bottle cozies.
Mayor Darwin Hindman spoke at both ceremonies, saying it was his idea of a perfect day and that he hoped days like it could happen more often.
“These parks will make a huge difference to the neighborhood,” Hindman said. “People will get together, will recreate, see each other, and act as a social gathering place.”
Richard Perkins and Brett Fallert, employees of the Parks and Recreation department, came out to show their support.
“This is the first time I’ve been out here,” Fallert said at Longview Park. “It’s a great spot. There are people coming here from all directions.”
“It’s great to see the community support for this,” Perkins said. “It’s always nice to be encouraged by the local neighbors. We’re looking forward to the new tax levy to further the park development.”
At the end of each ceremony, a blue ribbon was cut, and the department snapped a photograph. At Longview Park, children stood atop the playground and peered down at the adults as they cut the ribbon. During the Louisville Park ceremony, several children helped Mayor Hindman hold the scissors as visitors counted down.