Sherman is moving forward with improvements to Cherry Street Park that will see new, updated amenities installed in the neighborhood recreation area. The City Council voted unanimously to approve three contracts, valued at a total of about $151,000 for the installation of a new pavilion, walking paths and other equipment at the park Monday night.

This represents the latest park upgrade that the city has pursued following the approval of a parks master plan by city leaders about three years ago. Like previous projects, the improvements to Cherry Street park will utilize annual funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for projects in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods.

“This is something that the city’s parks department has looked at from a year-to-year basis is what parks — generally on the east side — would qualify for these funds, are in most need of improvement and what improvements are most needed,” said Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch. “We generally go through it checking off a park each year until we’ve done the rounds.”

This will represent the second set of improvements to the park after the Sherman Rotary raised $10,000 for new playground equipment in mid-2019. This was the second such project by the rotary, following similar improvements to Hawn Park.

Given the scope of the work, and the different types of improvements, city staff went into the bidding process for the park improvements expecting that there could be a need to split the contract into multiple parts between multiple vendors. Additionally, the city allowed vendors to bid for individual portions of the improvements.

Despite this being expected, Strauch said this was the first time he has seen this in his time with the city.

When the city opened bids for the project in January, it received three bids, with only Kraftsman Commercial Playground & Waterpark Equipment applying for all parts of the improvement package that the city moved forward with. None of the three contractors bid for a proposed water fountain with attached dog bowl and an item for “additional site amenities.”

Kraftsman was awards a contract for the park’s new pavilion, while LEA Park and Play Inc. was the winning bid for a new swing set. Elite Welding & Construction will be handling the majority of the concrete work, including new walking paths and a pedestrian bridge.

The city will be utilizing $145,000 from its annual allocation from HUD through its Community Development Block Grant program. The remaining $6,206 will come from the city’s coffers.

The CDBG funds are given to the city each year for improvements in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Previously, the city has used these funds for emergency repairs and home projects, but started diverting these funds to park projects about three years ago.

“We felt from the list of allowable projects that parks was the best way to spend when we are talking about community impact with reaching the most people with the least amount of money,” Strauch said.

In addition to parks and other public projects in the target zone, the city can use the funds for ADA improvements to public facilities. Examples of previous projects include the recent wheelchair ramp at Kidd Key Auditorium, and the improvements to Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

“The parks we can use thing on have to be in the economic development block grant target area, which generally is in the east side of the city, but there are some parts of the west side of town that are in the target area.”

What improvements do you feel the city could use its CDBG funds for in the future? Let Michael Hutchins, the Herald Democrat local government reporter, know a