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Family ups commitment to park

City officials will open bids later this month for phase I of the new Kirkpatrick Park, and the family who inspired the park has increased its financial commitment to the project.

Barbara Tyler of the Andalusia’s Department of Leisure Services said the first phase of construction will include a 50-by-80-foot pavilion that includes restrooms and a stone fireplace with grills, as well as a memorial garden.

C.L. Kirkpatrick donated the seven acres for the park in memory of his wife, Sallie A. Kirkpatrick, who lost her life in a house fire during Hurricane Ivan in 2005. Mrs. Kirkpatrick was an avid gardener and great lover of flowers and the outdoors.

Her family donated the property on which the family’s house once stood, and later agreed to provide the $50,000 matching funds needed to secure Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for park construction.

“When Mr. Kirkpatrick said he wanted to do a memorial park, the ideas kept growing and growing,” Tyler said. “He had seen a pavilion in Opelika that he really liked, and asked us to include it.”

The city has been working with designers from Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood to develop a plan for the park. As ideas were added, the price tag went up.

When the engineers completed the drawings and an estimate, Kirkpatrick increased his financial commitment to the project by an additional $100,000.

The site is on Kirkpatrick Street, just off of where Whatley Street turns into Beatrice Street. City works have already been busy doing site preparation work and moving plants. The original home site will be a memorial garden with crushed limestone paths leading to a focal point.

Bids for the project will be opened at 2 p.m. on Sept. 30, and should be finalized by the city council on the following Monday.

In the second phase of the project, Tyler said, a playground area and perhaps some walking paths will be added.