Kenneth A. Clemons Recreational Complex, known in Gardendale simply as Kenny Clemons Park, has long been a diamond in the rough waiting for the City of Gardendale to put the investment needed into it to bring it to its full potential.
For years, Gardendale residents have heard promises of expansion, new fields, paved parking, and better lighting.
After all the years of a lack of investment in Kenny Clemons Park, we may very well now see improvements that sources tell The Gardendale News, could approach 1 million dollars or more. Some of these changes are already approved and moving forward and some are waiting final approval which could come as early as next week.
This would be a significant move in the right direction for a park that approaches 400 kids playing soccer, not to mention flag football. Thousands of kids, friends and families come to the park each season just for sports, not to mention the splash pad and birthday parties at the pavilions and playground area.
Kenny Clemons Park brings in thousands each year from outside of Gardendale. A major investment in the park would leave a strong impression of our city on those folks.
The Gardendale News sat down for a lengthy discussion with Dale Hyche, Parks & Recreation Director for the City of Gardendale, for a wide-ranging discussion of what projects his department is working on, but for this article we focus on the proposed changes to the Kenny Clemons Park and what Gardendale residents can expect moving forward.
As Gardendale moves the old Kiddy Park, approximately $70,000 worth of 5 to 6-year-old playground equipment was moved to Kenny Clemons Park.
Parks & Recreation will repurpose fencing from Kiddy Park to Kenny Clemons Park as well. They are working on the grading for installation now.
Parks & Recreation is also working on concrete and grading for 3 pavilions for the park.
Perhaps the most overdue part of the project will be the paving and guttering of the entire gravel areas of the complex. Essentially, there are two parking areas and a long gravel roadway that serves as a 2nd entrance into the park. One of the unapproved changes is to erect a sign into the 2nd entrance.
The paving of the gravel areas is a substantial, and much needed, undertaking as to cost, but was helped along by the city receiving numerous complaints over time from residents of the subdivision across the street as to dust blowing into the neighborhood from the gravel area.
There are 3 flag football fields now and conversations about now adding a 4th field. The flag football field area will gain its own concession area and a shade structure with canopies. There will be extensive landscaping for beautification. Bathrooms will be added for flag football fields.
LED lighting was recently completed on flag field 3.
The proposed Flag 4 field would be behind where the dumpsters are now. It would also have lighting and landscaping.
According to Dale Hyche, flag football has become a very popular youth sport in Gardendale and these changes reflect the popularity and need.
There will also be sidewalks installed to make the flag football fields accessible for those with disabilities.
Mr. Hyche added that there is also talk within the proposals of adding more lighting for soccer. Specifically, a second round in the practice field area.
To say these changes are long overdue would be an understatement. The tireless work of good folks like Sheri Farley, the Gardendale Soccer Club and countless volunteers, as well as significant work by the Gardendale Parks & Recreation Department have sustained Kenny Clemons Park and helped make it successful.
Now it’s time for the Mayor and City Council to fully fund all improvements needed to make Kenny Clemons Park what Gardendale residents, especially the kids, deserve.
A million dollars sounds like a lot of money, but it’s only 1/35th of what is being spent on the new Bill Noble Park.
We have the resources. We have the need. It’s time to finally take the diamond in the rough and make it a crown jewel for Gardendale.