MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - WMC Action News 5 stopped by Whitehaven’s new multi-million dollar park to see how it’s shaping up. Under construction for more than a year now, the redesign of David Carnes Park off Shelby Drive near Fairfield is designed to get people active. It also honors an important part of Memphis history.
"It's going to be awesome for our community," said Memphis City Councilwoman Patrice Robinson. "The rain has not allowed us to move as fast as we want to, but it's a great place."
Awesome doesn’t begin to describe the renovation of the park. The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Health Foundation is spending $5.4 million to transform it into the first BlueCross Healthy Place.
Studies show only 13% of Tennesseans get enough physical activity. The National Recreation and Park Association says research shows being active outdoors in green spaces helps reduce stress. The BlueCross Healthy Place has features to engage people of all ages.
"It's going to be great for our young people," said Councilwoman Robinson, "and even for people my age and over."
The nine-acre park includes a walking trail, splash pad, ball field, 40-yard dash track and an obstacle course.
Tuesday evening, workers were beginning to apply 11,000-square feet of safety surfacing below a playground kids won’t want to leave. The park is in Councilwoman Robinson’s district.
“The first thing they built was an indoor restroom,” she said with a laugh. “Oh my! I’m so excited not to have to go to that outdoor porta-potty.”
David Carnes, the park's namesake, was one of the first African-Americans to own land in Whitehaven. His blacksmith business was located where Southland Mall stands today. He also taught blacksmithing at Geeter High School.
The park sits where Carnes’ home used to be. His daughter donated the property to the City of Memphis.
The BlueCross Healthy Place honors Carnes' memory and his contributions to his community with a blacksmith play area, complete with his picture and brief history about him.
Carnes' grandson Gerald Sinclair, talked to WMC Action News 5 last year right after the plans for the park were revealed. He said he couldn't wait for the reimagined park to reopen.
“I wanna be able to say this is my Grandad’s new park,” he said. “It’s gonna be something we’ll love and enjoy for many years to come.”
If rain doesn’t cause more delays and construction stays on schedule, Councilwoman Robinson says they should cut be able to cut the ribbon on the new and improved David Carnes Park and start using it next month.