Citizens of the Milton can expect to see renovations to a few city parks, the development of Gill Bass Park and improvements to a few popular roads within city limits, as a result of recently awarded grant funding.

“We are just shy of a million dollars worth of grants…to improve the beautification within the City of Milton this year,” City Manager Brian Watkins said.

 Both Lucille Johnson Park and Carpenter’s Park will benefit from two $50,000 grants from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP), a competitive state grant program with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The $100,000 worth of grants will be used to rebuild the picnic pavilion, the youth basketball court, remodel the public restrooms and address landscaping needs to Lucille Johnson Park, located on Mary Street. The funding will also add playground equipment, improve the fishing pier and remodel the public restrooms at Carpenter’s Park on Munson Highway, Watkins said.

The funding for the needed improvements, according to Watkins have “been a long time coming.”

“It has been a blessing for us to get these grants,” he said. “It affords us the opportunity to upgrade our parks, keep them in good shape and add amenities to them.”

 Watkins said both parks see a lot of traffic, not only allowing outdoor activities for area youth, but also regularly hosting family and community events.

The city has also submitted a FRDAP grant for July 2017 and if awarded would be used to fund additional lighting to LucilleJohnsonPark. Watkins said the city will not know the results from the grant application until next summer.

The city was also recently awarded a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant, which will be used to add lighting along Canal Street and complete Gill Bass Park, located on the same road. The city, which had to contribute $50,000 towards the grant, received notification of the CDBG on October 2.

The CDBG funding will allow the city to complete Gill Bass Park including a millstone water fountain, a gazebo, sidewalks and paved parking. Watkins said two city-owned millstones with a historical connection to the mill site at LocklinLake would also be on display at the park.

With the council’s approval and the funding, Watkins said Gill Bass Park will offer a welcoming sight for those entering the city from Henry Street.

“I think it is going to be a beautiful park,” Watkins said. “I think it is going to be a great gateway into the City of Milton.”

Watkins said the city is currently finalizing and waiting for approval of paperwork in order to put the grant funding to work on both Lucille Johnson and Carpenter’s Park and the same for the work needed on Canal Street and Gill Bass Park. Currently there is no set date for when the projects will begin.

While citizens will not be able to see the park improvements in the immediate future, they can see a beautification project underway along Dogwood Drive, thanks to a $80,000 beautification grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. The city has contracted with Piney Grove Landscaping and Nursery, Inc., the same company responsible for planting trees in the median along U.S. Highway 90 in Milton, to landscape Dogwood’s median.

In addition to addressing the many city roadways in need of repair and resurfacing, city officials are also working with the Mt.Pilgrim African Baptist Church to secure grant funding for needed renovations to the church’s historical building listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Florida Black Heritage Trail.

City officials are currently working with the church’s congregation in seeking state funding in order to help preserve the historic building, which was previously reported to have multiple structural issues including foundation problems, water intrusion and needed repairs to the church building’s walls and ceiling.