New park in Manchester to welcome lo-cal veterans and their families

Coffee County Veterans Service Officer Gene Stillings shows the area that will soon be transformed into a park for local military veterans. The initiative includes two pavilions, two gazebos and a playground on 7 acres in Manchester.

Local veterans will soon have a park in Manchester.

The new park will be on 7 acres adjacent to Coffee County Veterans Services, located at 130 Shelton Rd., Manchester.

Coffee County Veterans Service Officer Gene Stillings hopes the park will be completed in about six months.

The initiative includes constructing two pavilions and two gazebos, initially. Stillings plans to eventually expand the project and provide a play area for children, as well.

“I am hoping to have the park ready by the spring,” Stillings said. “It’s going to take a little bit of time, not only for the funding but for the construction. And the area is a little wet sometimes.”

Members of the veterans services have wanted to see a park for those who have served in the military for a long time, said Stillings.

Recently, Stillings were able to secure funds through the county and purchase 3.5 acres next to the area already owned by the county and used by Coffee County Veterans Services – 3.5 acres.  With the recently purchased land, the total area for the park will be 7 acres.

“We had 3.5 acres behind the veterans building in Manchester,” Stillings said. “And the county helped us buy additional 3.5 acres at a reasonable price a couple of months ago.”

The plan is to transform the land into a park for local veterans, he said.

“It’s not going to be a public park – it’s just going to be for veterans right now,” Stillings said. “It will be for the veterans and their families. Eventually, we are going to build a play area for the kids. And we can expand our parking.

“We plan to construct two pavilions and two gazebos. The gazebos will be close to the creek, and that way if a veteran wants to come down and meditate, he will have that space.”

The land has already been purchased, but finalizing the project will require additional expenses.

Stillings hopes to raise money to cover cleaning up the area and building the structures at the park.

“We have been talking to Senator Janice Bowling and State Representative Rush Bricken to help us with the funds,” he said. “Hopefully, it won’t cost (the veterans services) – we don’t have much in our budget.’

He encouraged local businesses and community members to support the initiative.

Stillings estimates the project to cost about $10,000.

“We have been talking about this for years,” he said. “When I got the opportunity to purchase the additional land from the owner, I went to Coffee County Mayor Gary Cordell and to budget and finance committee, and they approved it. Then, I took it to members of the full commission, and when they found out what it was going to be, they approved it, as well.”

Coffee County is home to about 4,800 veterans, according to Stillings.

For more information, call veterans services at 931-728-6995.

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