By Angie Barmer
This Fall, residents from Blue Springs will have an outdoor space to go to for education, relaxation, reading, gardening, and more.
Sean Suggs, vice president of administration at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi, Inc., said, “We thank the community of Blue Springs for the warm welcome shown to our team members and are pleased to give the town something in return.”
Monday morning, employees from TMMMS unveiled plans to create the Toyota Blue Springs Water Garden and Education Park.
This park will sit on approximately half and acre of land across from the U.S. Post Office in Blue Springs.
There will be a playground, a pavilion, a pergola, a butterfly garden, a community garden, a bridge over swale, reading area with a fire pit, a Little Free Library, greenhouse and compost area, and more. There will be tree stumps placed around the fire pit, which will be from trees destroyed by the recent tornado in Tupelo.
Sean McCarthy, environmental engineering specialist at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi, Inc., said, “I met with Blue Springs Aldermen members Leanna Hollis and Lynda Bramlett at the end of Feb. and they told us their vision for the future and all of their hopes and dreams for Blue Springs and we realized that we could help make some of those dreams a reality.”
Blue Springs Alderwoman Leanna Hollis said, “This is so much more than I could have ever dreamed of. At the beginning, I had a dream of having a park for the residents and hopefully a walking track, but my vision was a lot bigger than this. I told people form Toyota my vision and my dreams and they are making all of them happen and more. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Blue Springs Alderwoman Lynda Bramlett said, “I am so thankful to Toyota. We needed this so badly. It’s amazing and is a dream come true. This is one of many steps towards beautifying the town of Blue Springs.”
Blue Springs Mayor Rita Gentry said, “I want to say thank you to everyone for being here today. This is a tremendous honor for our town and we are so thankful for Toyota being this gracious. You have all made this dream of ours come true. With our town budget, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without Toyota. We are so thankful and can’t wait to see what it will look like when it’s completed – it’s going to be tremendous.”
Materials and labor for the park construction are valued at approximately $100,000.
TMMMS will finance the park, which will be built by Toyota team members and members from the Blue Springs community. B & B Concrete Co., Inc., and MMC Materials, will donate concrete for the pavilion area and for a sidewalk that will encircle the park to provide a walking path for the visitors.
Mark Jarrett with B & B Concrete Co., Inc., said. “We are honored that Toyota asked us to partner with them on such a meaningful initiative. We are happy to support a project that will have a tremendous impact on the town of Blue Springs and improve residents’ overall quality of life.”
Blue Springs Alderman Malcom Leath said, “There was no way that the town of Blue Springs could have ever afforded something like this, even with a grant. This is a huge boost for Blue Springs and we need to definitely show our appreciation to all that made this possible.”
TMMMS has a sustainability and conservation education philosophy and focuses on four key areas – performance, biodiversity, renewable energy, and education. Because of this, there will be compost bins and water cisterns at the park to ensure reuse of water and water resources. Because of the reuse of the water, the garden will be watered on a constant basis.
Additionally, a garden of wildflowers will be planted to support the natural migration path of the monarch butterfly. For educational purposes, there will be information about the life cycle, gardening instructions and migration information.
McCarthy said, “The monarch butterfly naturally migrates over this area of this state and by planting milkweed and other plants that attract the monarch butterfly, we will hopefully attract them and help the monarch population spread.”
Blue Springs Alderwoman Leia Spencer-Shelton said, “I am so overwhelmed, so thankful, and so blessed for Blue Springs to be receiving this park. It exceeds my expectations. The community garden will be one of the many ways that we can give back to the community. I think by having this park here will encourage people to use the community more.”
Minerva Graham, owner of Rainbow Learning Center in New Albany and Blue Springs, said, “As a new business owner, I couldn’t be more excited. There are so many educational opportunities with this new park. We can take the kids to the park all of the time and teach them all kinds of things. This is a great opportunity for Blue Springs.”
Gentry added, “Emily Wilemon-Holland from Toyota has worked tirelessly on this project and so much more. She is such a tremendous asset to Toyota and to Blue Springs.”
Suggs said, “I am privileged to work alongside our team members who share Toyota’s commitment to our planet and to the communities where they live, work, and serve.”
The park will be completed Sept. 20 and will be a part of Toyota’s National Public Lands Day volunteer event. Between 200 and 800 TMMMS volunteers participate in National Public Lands Day each year and Toyota Mississippi has the highest number of volunteers from any Toyota plant in the country.