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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Name proposed for square park

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Last year, the empty lot between Pope's Cafe and the Norton Law Office on Shelbyville's public square was transformed into a small, inviting park.

Now, the time has come to name it.

Members of the non-profit Uptown Shelbyville organization appeared before the city council Tuesday to request that the property at 122 E. Side Square be officially named "Our Town Community Park."

Shelbyville had entered into a lease agreement last summer for $1 a year with Square One Inc., set up by attorney John Norton, for the empty lot "for use as a small picnic area and park."

According to a letter from chairperson Pat McMillian of the group, after consulting with Norton, they find the name "shows pride in out town and will serve to let everyone know it is not a private park, but one to serve the entire community."

McMillian wrote since they have "many projects" planned for the park, they would like the council to consider the new name as soon as possible.

Name change

Cindy Stephenson, secretary for the group, told the council they had also submitted an update of the activities of the non-profit group, which has been filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State, to change their name to "Our Town -- Shelbyville."

Confusion with the Uptown Merchants Association is the reason for the name change, Stephenson said.

Stephenson had a draft of a form that groups could fill out for the use of the park, saying it was up to the council whether the parks department or City Hall would handle that. She suggested reservations could be handled the same way as at H.V. Griffin Park and its pavilions.

While the group supports and coordinates events with the merchants association, McMillian wrote that its interests encompass the well being of the entire community, while focusing on educating the public "about the importance of preserving the core area of Shelbyville."

Another group had been called "Our Town" in the 1990s, but it dissolved around 2002. The current organization is continuing to work to reclaim the status of a Tennessee Main Street Community.

Organizers are currently working to acquire 501(c)3 non-profit status from the IRS and are working with the merchants group to let the community know about upcoming events on the square.

City manager Jay Johnson said there are 22 Main Street communities in Tennessee and most are the size of Shelbyville.

Planned events

The group will work with the Shelbyville Police Department for a crime and gang activity seminar, to educate business owners and residents of the square on the topic. The date will be announced

On Oct. 6, the group will work with the city's parks and recreation department and the Fly Arts Center on "Art in the Park" -- featuring local artists, demonstrations of design, hands-on activity for the kids and live entertainment. The group hopes this become an annual event.

In November, the group is working on holding a motorcycle "cruise-in" and arm wrestling competition, in the hope of welcoming many of the riders that pass through on their way to Lynchburg -- a popular spot for bikers.

A loft tour is planned for December, to educate folks on the redevelopment and restoration of the square's historic buildings. Many have not been aware of the businesses and housing available there, McMillian wrote.

Then, next Feb. 6, the Chili, Chocolate and Chicken event returns, with a change of venue -- moving the competition into the Fly Arts Center so that everyone can sit comfortably inside to decide the winner by people's choice.