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Park ready for families, not graffiti

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Volunteers work at Cumberland Park in Midway this fall to install a swing set. (Submitted Photo)

There’s good news, and a bit of unpleasant news, when it comes to the only park owned by Chaves County.

The improved Cumberland Park in Midway. (Submitted Photo)

Cumberland Park in Midway, a few miles outside of Dexter, has been spiffed up during the past few months thanks to about $21,000 from a grant and donations and about 99 volunteers committing 1,074 hours to the project.

“Everything is installed except for the posts for the volleyball court,” said Sean Davis, director of Keep Chaves County Beautiful, the nonprofit that coordinated the improvement project.

In July, the park was run down. Now after about three months of work, the park has a new swing set, partly paid for by the Chaves County Health Council, a newly painted basketball court and shed, and two charcoal grills and park benches. The sand for the volleyball court is also in place and a gravel walking trail has been built. A metal rod iron fence around the park has been put up to stop people from driving onto the park, and privacy screening has been installed around two large waste containers.

The Keep Chaves County Beautiful group, an affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful organization, funded most of the project with a $20,000 grant from the Keep America Beautiful-Lowe’s Community Partners Grant Program awarded in July. The other money came from the health council. Chaves County, which is Keep Chaves County Beautiful’s governmental partner, also assisted with the project by repairing a water pump and helping to dig out the area for the walking trail.

Davis said he has been heartened to see that the park has already proven popular with kids.

“I do know the second that I left every day, the kids would come out to play,” he said.

But as the upgrade project has neared completion, some vandalism also has occurred, Davis acknowledged.

On two separate occasions, some people have painted graffiti on the shed.

“But I was out there the next day painting over it,” he said. “And I guess we will keep fighting that until it stops.”

Although no official complaints have been filed about the incidents, Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder said, “We will close-patrol that park and try to discourage further vandalism.”

Davis said his organization plans to use some other grant money it received from a New Mexico Tourism Department grant to plant grass and trees in spring 2019 and then will hold a dedication afterwards.

He expressed gratitude to the many individuals and organizations that assisted, providing the equivalent of $33,000 in contributions with their labor and time. Volunteer groups included Graves Farm and Garden, Altrusa International, the Roswell Jobs Corps, the Chaves County Health Council, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the Midway Volunteer Fire Department, the New Mexico National Guard Youth Challenge, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and the Home Builders Institute. A full list of individuals and groups is available on the group’s Facebook page.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.