McMinnville Parks and Recreation Committee members will be discussing areas along the Barren Fork River on Tuesday night.
Sallys Alley, Pepper Branch Park, Riverfront Park, and extending the Barren Fork River Greenway are all on the agenda.
The development of Sallys Alley into a park has been under consideration since August of last year. Officials are currently considering the installation of a boat ramp into the river. The area is owned by the city, considered a flood plain by the state, and is closed to public use.
Sallys Alley, the street, is located on Beersheba Highway by E-Z Money Pawn Shop. A road sign marks the entrance and a gravel driving path winds along a wooded area to an open spot. Overgrowth blocks access to the river.
Alderman Rick Barnes spurred the city’s interest in developing the area into a park after he purchased the property across the river from it and saw people trying to get through the overgrowth to the water.
“I’ve sat and watched people beat the grass with a stick in order to get to the water to play in the river,” said Barnes. “I’ve spent a lot of time on the river this summer and all everyone asks me for is more access to the river.”
At that time, Barnes asked fellow board members to consider allowing city employees to use a bushhog to clear the area to test the waters when it comes to building a new park.
“We could clean up a couple of acres and see what happens,” said Barnes.
Development of the area into a park could cost approximately $115,000 for a pavilion, picnic tables, playground equipment and restrooms.
The idea received some resistance from former mayor Norman Rone, who suggested the city spend money on parks it already operates, such as Rocket Park located just down river from Sallys Alley.
Rocket Park is located on Cope Street. The park has picnic tables, pavilions, playground equipment, basketball court, tennis court, softball field, and a ramp into the river.
The city has five parks — Pepper Branch Park, Rocket Park, Riverfront Park, Ramsey Park, and Pistole Park. Of the parks, three have access into the Barren Fork River.
Given the secluded location of Sallys Alley and the possibility of individuals using the park for something other than its intended use, Alderman Billy Wood suggested public access be limited to daylight hours to deter unwanted activities.
Also on the committee’s agenda is to discuss RV hook-ups at Pepper Branch Park, a TWRA grant for Riverfront Park and to hear from Dr. Wally Bigbee about the expansion of the Barren Fork Greenway.
The Parks and Recreation Committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be held on the third floor of city hall.