An underrated upgrade

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By Brandon Mattingly

It’s no secret that Washington County is undergoing some major changes right now.

New facilities are on the way that are going to provide resources and opportunities for local residents. Not to mention there’s going to be more reason than ever for visitors to spend time here.

By the time the 2014-15 school year rolls around, Washington County students will be filling the new high school, the new Washington County Fire Department and Washington County Fire Protection Association building will be taking form and the new Washington County Public Library will be on the verge of breaking ground.

It’s not limited to the Springfield area either. The park in Fredericktown has gotten a makeover, while Willisburg is still breaking in the medical facility that opened just last year.

Obviously, it’s a pretty exciting time for the area. That kind of wholesale upgrade doesn’t often happen to a community in such a short time period, but officials in Springfield and Washington County have been able to pull off some changes that should really start to pay dividends sooner rather than later.

In all of the changes, though, the one that is going somewhat under the radar is the work being done at Idle Hour Park.

Springfield received a big opportunity when it was chosen to host the Little League softball state tournament—as well as the boys’ district tournament—this coming summer, and city officials have been quick to take advantage.

Painting, additional seating and landscaping are just some of the changes already being implemented. By the time the project is finished, there’s a notion that the park will have a much more welcoming feel to it and step into the 21st Century, so to speak.

Come June, the park is going to see an unprecedented amount of traffic with the Little League tournaments rolling through, and even more now that it’s been announced that Relay for Life will be held there this year. This summer will truly be an opportunity to show off the new upgrades to visitors who have never been to Springfield or at least haven’t been through in a while.

The advantages of the changes being made at the park aren’t limited to impressing outsiders, however. An improved park could very well mean an increase in the number of locals using it on a daily basis.

That would be ideal, considering its central location to the new high school and the future home of the new library. Really, a successful recreation area like Idle Hour could be what ties all of the other new upgrades around Springfield together.

Park Director Bernard Smalley and Councilwoman Brooke Coulter have spear-headed getting the improvements finished in time for this summer’s events, and it’s a move that I think will pay off rather quickly. When people visit a nice park, they remember it. When they visit one that’s not so nice, they remember that too.

Making a good impression this summer could lead to any number of opportunities in the future for Springfield and Idle Hour Park.

That could make these improvements, while less noted than the others, just as important for the community down the road.