By Charles Petty
In the quiet community of Lemon Springs, down the road from Greenwood Elementary School, sits a park that has a history of bringing the community together. Now, a group of volunteers is working to give it new life.
The Lemon Springs Community Park as it is now known was formally established in 2017. But it’s been a vibrant part of the small community in southern Lee County for far longer than that. The park sprang up a few decades back, when a few area residents – all but a few of whom have now passed on – wanted in particular to bring the communities in Lemon Springs and nearby Tramway closer. To that end, they built a park with a ball field so that their children would be able to play games together. A clubhouse was added not long after.
The park was run for decades on a volunteer basis, and what money was made by way of the concession stand went toward upkeep of the grounds. As they years went on, though, regulations in regards to the ballpark – fence sizes, lighting requirements, game rules, and more – began to stifle attendance, leading to the park eventually being used only as a practice spot for teams.
The original charter members of the organization that initially operated the park had hoped that the property would go to an organization that would continue to operate it as a nonprofit, and eventually went with a group dear to their hearts: The Lemon Springs Volunteer Fire Department, which continues to run the park on a volunteer basis.
Lately, the fire department and other volunteers have been working to help clean up the park, add new amenities, and bring awareness to the wider community. The department also continues to take care of the clubhouse, which is now available for rentals at $100 per day for anyone who wants it for special occasions.
Recently, volunteers staged a major cleanup at the park, adding benches, a volleyball net and a trail. The funds for these projects come from the park’s annual fall turkey shoot, which is held every November with roughly 100 participants (follow the organization’s Facebook page to get details for future events).
Kenny Patten, who works with the fire department and volunteers at the park, said he loves the turkey shoot and how it positively impacts the park with much-needed funding.
“It is one of the best things we run that helps make money to maintain the clubhouse and the grounds and to promote community spirit,” he said.
Volunteer Jennifer Graham said she wants to make sure Lee County is aware of an underutilized asset.
“We’re just trying to get the word out to the community that we are here and have facilities that are useful for families,” she said. “We hope people take advantage of the playground and the walking trail.”
The park also has a gofundme page with a goal of $5,000, and park volunteers said the nearby Martin Marietta stone quarry has been a big contributor, including laying gravel to redo the parking lot. Going forward, park goers can expect more small changes and fixes, including making the playground handicap accessible.
Volunteer firefighter Mike Holmes said he’s optimistic about the park’s future.
“Everybody who volunteers has a role to play here,” he said. “We all do our best to help out in any way we can. My son has a grading tractor that keeps the driveway up and I help in all the ways I can. This place is special to us and we’re glad to be a part of taking care of the park.”