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Mayor Jim Luke details upcoming Friendship Park upgrades

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune City Council, Mayor Jim Luke provided an update on the renovation of Friendship Park. Mayor Luke detailed how the park renovation and construction will address existing issues and position Friendship Park for being a host for many tournament opportunities.

The park renovation project was awarded approximately $2 million in grant money from BP settlement funding. Mayor Luke said “By July 2022, you are going to see a very different park than what you see today.”

The Playground at Kids Kingdom will be one of the premiere parks in South Mississippi and will be one of the only full, inclusive playgrounds for children with disabilities.

Eight artificial turf fields being added will make Friendship Park the sports complex it was intended to be. Luke said Picayune will be the only municipality within 200 miles in any direction to have this many designated turf fields. The turf will reduce maintenance, enable the fields to be playable in as 20 minutes of drainage time after downpours of rain, and this should lead to fewer cancellations for baseball, softball, and Buddy Ball games. The turf will also be a huge aid for adults and children with mobility aids.

The creation of more soccer fields at the west end of the park will help the fast-growing sport that is in need of more space Luke stated. This will also allow the city and Friendship Park to host tournaments.

The new park will also address a major safety issue with the construction of a restroom facility at the Tee-Ball fields area. The current situation forces the tee-ballers to cross a busy intersection and have to cover 150-200 yards to use the restroom, in some cases, when the youngsters ‘need to go’ immediately.

The new construction will include security cameras in hopes in deterring theft and destruction at Friendship Park. Vandalism has been a longtime issue at the park and by adding the cameras, the city hopes to provide a sense of protection as well as a precedent to hold those who may attempt to damage the park accountable for their actions.

In closing, Mayor Luke said, “Think of the playground. Instead of people going to other cities, people will be coming Picayune because we will have one of the best playgrounds in South Mississippi.”


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