Officials with the city of Jay are calling on residents to join them in the cleanup of the long forgotten Huckleberry Park located behind the Arvest Bank in Jay.
The cleanup takes place beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, and is set to go - weather permitting - until 4 p.m.
One of the organizers, Jay City Clerk Camrine Thompson said at one time the park was used for community events such as concerts, as well as weddings and parties.
But since the early 1990s, Thompson said the park - which is located near the county courthouse - has sat unused.
Community leaders joining Thompson in the effort to clean up Huckleberry Park include Jay Mayor Les Newkirk, as well as Michelle Moore, with Grand River Abstract, Rhonda Sloan and Amy Stanford, Community Action members. Other help is being offered by officials with TSET [Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust].
Efforts to clean the park began in the summer of 2017. Officials decided to finish the project in January, in order to complete the cleanup before the spring growth began.
Thompson hopes once restored, the park will once again be the site for community events.
"The main goal, and this is why we're getting the community involved in it, is because we kind of want to use it as a community center," Thompson said. "We want people to rent it out for birthday parties, weddings, concerts and be able to use it during the Huckleberry Festival Cruise Night."
Once the cleanup process is complete, officials with the Northeast Oklahoma Rural Services [N.R.S.] plan to complete the landscaping process - including the replacement of grass and bushes.
“This Saturday will be mostly just cleanup," Thompson said. "We’re going to clean up tables and landscape and make a list of what all needs to be done. Our goal is to do another cleanup day before the end of March and have the park up and ready to use by summertime."
Thompson said city officials hope the cleanup days will spark an initiative where community members work together to help with the park's upkeep and ongoing maintenance.
"It was just forgotten," Thompson said. "I'm only 26, but a long time ago it was very nice. There was an amazing fountain and it was just so nice.
"But now there are broken tables and it's super overgrown. There used to be driving and walking trails and now there's none of that, so it's going to take a lot of work,"
Thompson said future plans call for the restoration of the walking trails, so people working in the Delaware County Courthouse have a place to walk during their lunch break.
"It starts with getting [the park] cleaned up again," Thompson said. "It’s something the mayor and I have been wanting to do.
"Of course city business comes first, but we’ve finally gotten around to cleaning it up. We want it to be something that can be used by the community once again and for future generations,”
Participants interested in helping with the cleanup efforts are asked to bring lawn tools, rakes, gloves and weed eaters. Lunch will be served to all participants and community service hours will be available.
For more information, persons interested may contact Thompson at 918-705-1898.