Park named in memory of Dalton Palmer
A 2003 economic development study recommended ways to improve the economy downtown, and in the past 15 years, it has been a goal of members of the Augusta City Council and residents to see a downtown playground for local children.
That wish is about to come true.
City Manager Josh Shaw advised that a downtown playground ties in with the rehab of the Frisco Depot and the enhanced Rail to Trails project.
“To be a destination, an economic driver, the park has to be unique with different options,” Shaw said. “Something not found everywhere.”
Shaw explained that the former owner of the Magic Focus building and former lumber yard was contacted a number of years ago in hopes that he would be willing to split the lot and part with the lot next to the Frisco Depot. The owner was not interested in splitting the property and later sold to local business owner Troy Palmer. Shaw and former mayor Matt Childers put together some ideas and options and asked Palmer if he would be interested in helping make the downtown park a reality.
The lot was split and Palmer donated the lot to be used for a new and innovative playground in memory of his son Dalton.
Palmer and his wife, Jenny, lost Dalton, 13-years-old, in an ATV accident in November 2014. The young man was active in school and sports, and well-liked by his classmates and team mates.
As part of the Pride & Progress initiative, the City Council approved approximately $300,000 for the construction of the “extreme’ playground.
The old dilapidated fencing was removed and demolished materials hauled way and site grading completed.
Various designs and options were considered, along with ADA accessible surfacing. City staff met with a representative from Miracle Playgrounds to finalize the playground layout.
In May, the color scheme was approved by the Main Street Design Committee and equipment was ordered.
The formal site plan was approved by the Park Advisory Board and the Planning Commission in August.
“Troy reached out to Alan’s Excavating and the demolition and excavating was done,” Shaw continued, “API donated $20,000 to the project for the gravity rail. Andover Rotary Club has promised $1,500, and the Palmer family helped set up a way for people to donate, as well.”
The playground equipment was delivered on Aug. 13 and is currently being installed.
“This park is part of the broader vision for Augusta. Work on the downtown trail will be in 2019, along with the skate park...These were not random ideas, but goals that came from that original economic development plan,” Shaw advised.
Hopes are that the park will be popular and will generate interest, which could result in obtaining grants for enhancements and more additions to the park, such as upgrading to a more expensive rubberized surface.
City Councilman Cale Magruder recently stated on social media, “We’re excited about this and thankful to the community partners - the Palmer family for donating the ground, Alan’s Excavating for going above and beyond...We hope to have the playground open for the 150th Celebration to enjoy this great addition to Augusta.”