A park that used to be a place for neighborhood children to gather and play but has since become overgrown and ultimately unused is now being revitalized thanks to a local church. 

Members of the First United Methodist Church Trinity Campus of Alexander City descended on Springhill Park in Alexander City on Saturday to clean up the park located on Springhill Road.

Bro. Mike Densmore, who is executive pastor at the church, said the goal is to improve the space and get it back to what it once was.

“There were a lot of people who grew up learning to play football here,” Densmore said. “We want the space to be as near as what we once had as we can get it.”

What was a field of waist-high grass just a few weeks ago is now a cleared area that will serve as a place for children to play football, baseball, soccer, kickball and more. 

Along with cleaning up brush and debris and clearing the area, volunteers placed five picnic tables in the park Saturday and today will complete the installation of four grills at the park. 

Densmore and other volunteers hope people will enjoy the fruits of their labor and start gathering at the park with their families.

Katie Dark, a FUMC member and volunteer, is a first-grade teacher at Jim Pearson Elementary School and she said her brain is wired to think about the kids in the community and how to help them. To her, volunteering to spruce up Springhill Park is a simple thing to do that can make a big impact.

“One thing I love is getting kids outside and getting them with their families,” Dark said. “What better way to do that than at this park?”

Dark said as a society people have gotten away from spending time outside and with family.

“People just don’t do that anymore,” Dark said. “We need to get back to community. To me, this is one simple thing that we can do to help get people out together having fun and hanging out.”

The work at Springhill Park is funded completely by the FUMC but Densmore said the city and many other organizations have been nothing but helpful. The Alexander City Housing Authority donated $1,000 to help.

Projects to complete the park will come in phases, including the installation of a swingset, but work will be done within a few weeks, Densmore said. That shouldn’t stop area families from enjoying the park now as it will be ready for the public by Wednesday.

“It is wild how much this park has transformed over these last couple of weeks,” Dark said. “You can look over at this playing field and almost close your eyes and see it — kids playing ball, playing in the creek, gathering here having fun together.”

Dark said she hopes this will be an asset for Springhill residents.

“This is a neat neighborhood because you have all different types of people over here — old, young, all types,” Dark said, “and it’s just a nice mix of what God’s people look like. This is going to be a place we can all come together.”

Densmore said the church plans to have a kickoff event at the park with a cookout soon but it has not been officially scheduled. There will also be ministries held there, he said.

FUMC members did more than reclaim Springhill Park on Saturday. 

Groups of volunteers completed five home projects, three of which were in Springhill and included installing a ramp on a carport, pressure washing porches, replacing a back porch deck/lattice and reattaching a gutter. The other projects included cutting a resident’s grass, doing yardwork and installing a ramp and steps at a home.

Volunteers also met up at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex to do a few projects, including adding mulch to the playground area, painting teeter-totters and playsets and pressure washing the vistors’ side of the stadium bleachers.

Other projects included painting at Stephens Elementary School; painting and removing wallpaper at the ARISE offices; adding mulch and other projects at the 6th Street playground; and washing vans at Bill Nichols State Veterans Home.

Densmore said there were nearly 200 volunteers Saturday.

“God calls us to do it and you don’t even hesitate; you just do it,” Dark said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Santana Wood is the interim managing editor of The Outlook.