Taylor Spring Park plans progress

By LARRY C. BOWERS Banner Staff Writer
Posted 12/1/16

A unique and historic Cleveland city park is moving closer and closer to becoming a reality. It is hoped it will become a downtown showplace and a site members of the community can learn about …

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Taylor Spring Park plans progress

Posted

A unique and historic Cleveland city park is moving closer and closer to becoming a reality. It is hoped it will become a downtown showplace and a site members of the community can learn about local history.

Taylor Spring Park, named by the city’s Andrew Taylor Spring Committee, will be located on 1st Street, less than a half mile west of the Bradley County Courthouse. The property once belonged Andrew Taylor, one of the earliest settlers of the community.

The park project was launched by the city in an effort to preserve the area surrounding the spring, which is being called the “Historical Birthplace of Cleveland, Tennessee.”

For a number of years, the spring was shielded (covered) by the law offices of late Cleveland attorney Jim Webb, as well as a laundry facility. Prior to his passing in September, Webb donated his property to the city. The city has since purchased the property where the laundry was located.

The committee, approved by the Cleveland City Council, is spearheaded by Cleveland businessman, entrepreneur, and local historian Allan Jones. Joining him on the panel are Cleveland City Councilman Richard Banks (who serves as chairman and selected the committee), Cleveland Public Works Supervisor Tommy Myers, former Bradley County Commissioner Jeff Morelock, and city historian Bob George.

Recently, the Jones Foundation purchased a parcel next to the spring on the west, donating the property to the city to expand space surrounding the spring. This latest addition will be for entering and leaving the park during and after the construction phase, as well as some parking.

Almost all committee members attended a Wednesday meeting in the Jones’ corporation offices in The Village Green.

Local 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 Taylor Spring Park.

He unveiled schematics and cost estimates for the project during the meeting.

Burris’ projections for the construction, landscaping, aesthetics, and other aspects of the project total $279,362, which does not include the value of Webb’s office, the follow-up property purchase, or the parcel donation by Jones.

Some of the engineering/design proposals for the park are being tweaked by committee members.

Jones emphasized the “springhouse,” which will enclose the actual spring as its feeds out into a surrounding basin (or pool). It will be built much as log cabins were at the time of the settlement of Cleveland.

He already has logs for this part of the project, and Myers is anticipating his maintenance crew can assist with construction.

Another Cleveland contractor, Dennis Black, was also at Wednesday’s meeting, and is expected to be in charge of the massive concrete construction included in the park’s design. This will include poured walls.

With engineering and design in hand, and a construction start on the horizon, the committee is also discussing a community fundraising effort to provide much of the funds for the project.

Another meeting has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 14, to discuss these issues.

One fundraising suggestion from Burris is to obtain flat rock, or stone, and sell each with engraved names for a specific amount. Jones agreed with the suggestion, saying his father purchased an engraved brick with his name on it for construction of the old YMCA building downtown. He said he is proud to still see his name on the building, which is now the Cleveland City Schools’ Denning Center downtown, not far from where this historic park will be located.

The engraved stone would probably be placed in the walls surrounding the spring.

Cleveland Public Works crews, under Myers’ direction, demolished the old Webb building some time ago to open access to the spring. The spring is supposedly the reason early settlers moved into this area.

Prior to the committee’s first meeting, Jones initiated historical research on the location of the home of the spring’s namesake, Andrew Taylor.

Members of the committee have expressed an interest in seeing an extension of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway to the park.

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

This new park will be within easy walking distance from the courthouse, U.S. Postal Service facility, the courthouse annex, the historic Bank of Cleveland building, United Way of the Ocoee Region offices, and many other offices and businesses.

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 the city of Cleveland.

The spring was closed in 1940, and buildings soon covered it. Jones said the owner at the time 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.

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