Neal Phillips talks with community members who attended the November 2012 dedication of the walking trail named in honor of his wife and former YMCA Executive Director Amanda Phillips. (File Photo)
Neal Phillips talks with community members who attended the November 2012 dedication of the walking trail named in honor of his wife and former YMCA Executive Director Amanda Phillips. (File Photo)

Archived Story

Grant expands recreation opportunities

Published 11:51am Friday, October 4, 2013

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon believes one would be hard pressed to find a community of Greenville’s size with more recreation opportunities than the Camellia City offers.

“I think it’s in the top 10 percent of any town our size,” he said.

It’s a selling point McLendon uses when attempting to lure businesses to the area.

“It’s one of the first things we talk about when we’re trying to recruit industry,” he said. “We take them and show them Cambrian Ridge. We take them and show them the tennis courts and the YMCA. We take them and show them the movie theater. Those things are a big deal to people who are looking to move their businesses to Greenville. It shows them the quality of life we have to offer here.”

The city was recently able to upgrade its recreational facilities thanks to a grant from Strategic Health Alliance — a five year initiative by the Alabama Department of Public Health to create healthier communities in Alabama’s Black Belt Region and West Alabama.

In 2012, Watermelon Hill, located behind the Greenville YMCA, was converted into the Amanda Phillips Walking Trail.

The trail is named for the longtime YMCA director that was the driving force behind the creation of the trail.

In 2013, windscreens and benches were added to the city’s newly constructed tennis courts, and a covered outdoor workout area with five pieces of fitness equipment was built. Both the tennis courts and the workout area are located adjacent to the YMCA. All three projects were funded with grant money from Strategic Health Alliance.

Ann Fuller, who helped administer the grant for the ADPH, said the goal of the projects was to counteract chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

“Butler County was one of 15 counties that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified as having high rates of these chronic diseases,” Fuller said. “We targeted Butler County and the other 14 counties and designed and implemented strategies to counteract these diseases. All of these strategies are meant to get people out and more active.”

According to Fuller, during the five-year initiative $1 million was spent on 98 projects in the 15 counties.

McLendon said that while the city had plans for such projects as the walking trail and the outdoor fitness area, they would still be plans without the grant.

“These are things we had a plan to do, but wouldn’t have been able to do yet without this grant,” McLendon said.

McLendon said the city, which owns more than 40 acres near the YMCA, also has plans to add more walking trails, a bike trail and a dog park on the property.

“This is just the start,” he said. “These are things that we have to budget for and look for grants to help fund. It will take years, but we plan to use that land near the YMCA to create even more recreation opportunities for our citizens.”

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