MILTON — Barring no complications, renovations to Lucille Johnson Park should be complete within the next four months, according to Public Works Director George Rials.
So, what can residents expect?
“With Lucille Johnson Park (we wanted to) replace the picnic pavilion, the youth basketball court and renovate the restrooms,” Rials said.
GALLERY: Photos of Lucille Johnson Park in Milton>
A $50,000 Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program or FRDAP, a competitive grant with the Florida Department of Environmental Program, funded improvements, Rials said.
While the funding helps, renovations might not have been completed without the dedication of Al Brewton, who advocated on the park’s behalf over the past two years.
“It’s been a long, long road,” Brewton said. “This is about community involvement; this just shows it can be done with perseverance.”
Brewton has worked with the city on renovating the park since 2014. In the summer of 2014, the now-defunct Downtown Redevelopment Advisory Board sought Brewton’s assistance in gathering input on specific improvements needed at the park.
Over the summer of 2014, the board allocated funding to resurface the park’s main basketball court and add a children’s swing set. However, the board was limited on funding for the park project. City officials eventually applied and received the FRDAP grant to address other areas of the park.
During the process, Brewton gathered input regarding park improvements from community organizations like Men In Action, Men With Vision, the Emerald Coast Ladies of Essence and a local Masonic lodge while surveying area residents.
“They were really wanting a lot of stuff there for the kids for recreation,” Brewton said.
During this process, Brewton prioritized a list of needs for the park, which also included upgrading the facility’s office, adding a public address system and improving public bleachers, among other things.
Brewton said his role in advocating in the park’s renovations included attending many DRAB and Parks and Recreation meetings.
“You could look on the meeting’s minutes and see where I was the only one (in attendance),” he said. “I put a lot of time into this for the last two years.”
Rials praised Brewton for his work in advocating for community park.
“He is a lifelong resident,” Rials said of Brewton. “He communicates with the citizens and identifies the type of things they want to see (at the park).”
In addition to offering playground equipment for neighborhood children, Lucille Johnson Park also regularly hosts basketball practice for area youth leagues, Brewton said.
Upon completion of renovations, Brewton hopes the park will host private and community events.
“This park is open for everybody just like Carpenter’s (Park),” Brewton said.
In addition to maintaining the park for the usage of future generations, Brewton said the park also means a lot to him on a personal level especially since he was raised in the part of Milton.
“I have deep respect for this area,” he said. “We used to play softball and baseball in this little area…way back in the day.”
Carpenter’s Park will receive renovations in the fall due to funding from another $50,000 FRDAP grant, Rials said.
Like Lucille Johnson Park, Carpenter’s will receive renovated restrooms along with upgrades to the park’s fishing piers and foot bridge.