Taylor Spring fundraiser to coincide with 175th

By LARRY C. BOWERS Banner Staff Writer
Posted 12/15/16

The prospect of a new, historic park in downtown Cleveland is flowing a little stronger today after action by the Andrew Taylor Spring Park Committee Wednesday.

The committee took steps to …

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Taylor Spring fundraiser to coincide with 175th

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The prospect of a new, historic park in downtown Cleveland is flowing a little stronger today after action by the Andrew Taylor Spring Park Committee Wednesday.

The committee took steps to launch a major community fundraiser to generate funds of around $250,000 for construction of the park at the “birthplace” of the city of Cleveland. The location of the spring, and future park, is on 1st Street, just west of the downtown courthouse square.

It will be within easy walking distance of a number of downtown businesses and offices, with easy access for visitors to the community. The Museum Center at Five Points, focusing on the history of the Ocoee Region, is only a few blocks away.

Cleveland City Manager Joe Fivas, Cleveland Finance Director Shawn McKay, and Community Foundation President Cathy Barrett were guests at Wednesday’s meeting. Barrett will help coordinate the fundraising effort, as she did with the successful Cleveland Dog Park project.

Committee members include Cleveland businessman and historian Allan Jones, city historian Bob George, Cleveland Councilman Richard Banks (chairman), Cleveland Public Works Supervisor Tommy Myers, and former Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock. Myers could not attend Wednesday’s session.

Contractors Dee Burris and Dennis Black, and Toby Pendergrass of Jones Management, also attended the afternoon meeting.

A by-invitation fundraiser has been tentatively scheduled for an historic day to solicit donations for this very historic park. The fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4, the 175th anniversary of the city of Cleveland’s incorporation (Feb. 4, 1842).

Barrett and Pendergrass have been directed by the committee to plan for the February fundraiser, and the overall fundraising effort.

Committee members, especially Jones, are adamant that there be assorted levels of giving. It was the consensus of the group that engraved bricks be available as the Dog Park campaign featured. The bricks will probably sell for $100, with around $20 the cost of the brick and approximately $80 going into the fundraising effort. The top donation level is expected to be $25,000.

“It helped us to have different levels,” said Barrett of the dog park project. “You must also keep in mind the installation cost (for the bricks),” added the president of the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County.

“I want to see a lot of donors,” said Jones in favor of multiple levels of giving. “A lot of people will want to purchase these bricks, because they’re going to be there a long time.”

The committee is considering a variety of other recognition items to purchase with donations. Items mentioned include benches, plaques, medallions, trees and more. Barrett and Pendergrass will be working on this possibility.

The downtown spring was hidden for a number of years underneath the old law offices of the late James “Jim” Webb. Webb donated the property to the city. The city later purchased an adjoining parcel, and Jones recently purchased a lot to the west of the spring and donated it to the city.

The property Jones purchased will be used for parking of construction crews, and is expected to provide an entrance and exit to the park when it is completed.

Committee members are planning a tribute to the late Jim Webb, acknowledging his donation to the city and the community, and they also want to provide his family the opportunity to participate in the park project.

They are also hopeful city and county governments will both participate in the effort. It was emphasized that the spring is not only the birthplace of the city, but the birthplace of Bradley County. The county was founded almost six years before the city was incorporated, on May 2, 1836.

Banks said he has approached the County Commission about this possibility. “I would think they would want to make it a countywide endeavor,” he added.

City officials at Wednesday’s meeting, Fivas and McKay, both appear enthused by the preliminary plans and anticipations for the park.

“We would like to see that it is done right, to where it’ll be a jewel for the city for a long time,” said the new city manager.

The Taylor Spring Park project is an effort to preserve the area surrounding the spring, which is being called the “Historical Birthplace of Cleveland.” Bradley County might be incorporated into the title, if that government body decides to participate.

The committee was approved by the Cleveland City Council, with Banks serving as committee chairman.

Contractor Dee Burris, who also serves as chairman of the Cleveland Municipal Planning Commission, is donating his time and expertise in compiling engineering specifics and designs for the proposed park. He is coordinating schematics and cost estimates.

Black, the other contractor at Wednesday’s committee meeting, is expected to be in charge of all the concrete work, including the pouring of walls.

Committee members also discussed a tentative timeline for the project. Following the fundraising effort, it is expected that it will be four to six months before construction will start. This would push actual work to mid-2017.

Another focus for the park is authenticity. Jones has saved a number of logs at his home, which will be used to construct the springhouse over the head of the spring. “We want it to be constructed as it would have been back then,” said Jones.

There are also tentative plans for the Cleveland Greenway to be extended from along Keith Street to the park.

Taylor Spring Park will become the city’s first new park downtown since the building of First Street Square.

According to local historians, Andrew Taylor built a log cabin near the spring in 1835. Taylor’s Place, as it was known, attracted more settlers and eventually grew to become Bradley County, and a few years later the City of Cleveland.

The spring was closed in 1940, and buildings such as Webb’s law office covered it. Jones said one of the previous owners used the spring to cool his building, by pumping the water to a radiator with a fan.

Taylor and a brother, David, were among the first to live in the area. They married Cherokee Indian sisters, prior to the Cherokee Removal to the Oklahoma Territory.

The next meeting of the Taylor Spring Park Committee will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10.

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