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June 8, 1999

Driving around Perry and environs on a recent spring afternoon, our car turned south and soon led us to the CCC Park, that lush green oasis which once served ambiguously as "the city farm." It is a hilly, wooded area with a decent lake that many local anglers prefer to all others. Far as I know, it was never a farm in the traditional sense. When the Great Depression came along in the 1930s, the young men of President Roosevelt's newly created Civilian Conservation Corps set up a military-style camp on the location and soon converted it into a beautiful park. It was turned over to the City of Perry for all to enjoy.

During these lazy June days, many folks enjoy its offerings. Fishing is a major form of recreation, but there also are family picnics and many other group activities. Some find its vehicle paths suitable for a brisk early morning walk, and nature lovers just appreciate the closeness of the great outdoors made possible by this fine asset owned and maintained by Perry. Many kinds of wildlife enjoy the shelter, food and water they find there.

Several things about the park disturb me, however. An abundance of rainfall this spring has resulted in a great crop of weeds throughout the area, just like in our yards at home. We can handle the latter, but something needs to be done about the park. All the roads are in extremely sad shape with great potholes that threaten to damage the undercarriage of the many cars, pickups and recreational vehicles that bring people to the area. Just driving through the park is a daunting task. A "one-way" traffic sign has been all but lost in the growth of a tree. The sandy volleyball court has been virtually obliterated by weeds and a teeter totter nearby is being swallowed by shrubbery. Filthy obscenities and other graffiti have been spray-painted on picnic shelter walls where parents used to bring children for birthday parties and other celebrations. Sadly, many people believe drug deals are carried out in various shaded areas.

Another major problem at CCC Park is the crumbling condition of the historic Episcopal church building -- the "church on a perch" -- which was moved there last year in an effort to preserve it and restore it to a usable condition. Although it is now mounted on a firm stone foundation, every window has been smashed, clapboard siding is loose and pulling off the frame, it's badly in need of painting, and there is a high probability that birds or worse are now making their home in the old building.

At the time the structure was acquired, it was hoped that it could be renovated and made usable for weddings, family gatherings, worship services and any number of things. However, one look at it now tells you the condition of the building is worse than it was when moved to the park.

Most of Perry's parks appear to be neatly trimmed and inviting, but our biggest and best, the CCC Park, is badly in need of attention. Let's hope help can be arranged before the situation gets completely out of hand.