NEWTON GROVE — With a goal of earning the highest honor in the Boy Scouts organization, Luke Williams wants to add something special to Weeks Park.
The 14-year-old freshman from Midway High School plans to build a batting cage for residents and athletes in the town. Williams made a presentation to the Newton Grove Board of Commissioners during a Monday meeting to begin working towards the Eagle Scout ranking — the top achievement.
It was one of four ideas brought to the board by the Boy Scout, who is a member of Troop 55. The others were an amphitheater, and renovations for either the basketball or tennis courts. Williams requested feedback from the commissioners after talking about the town’s history and attractions.
“We have a diverse population and we can all come together at Weeks Park,” Williams said while bringing up memories of sunrise services on Easter morning, Fourth of July celebrations, movie nights and other events.
A walking trail, gazebo, grills, playground, picnic areas and baseball fields are some of the park’s features. Williams hopes to add another with the batting cage, near the existing basketball court.
“It’s always important for players to loosen up and hit something before their game,” Williams said.
The tennis court was the most expensive project on the list and would take a lot of time to complete. Board members agreed that the court, a $70,000 estimate, would be too much of an undertaking. Williams has a one-year timeline to finish a project. The estimate for the batting project is about $5,000. Town Clerk Amanda Turner said the batting cages would probably more useful for the town.
“I’ve asked a lot of people what they would like to see and most of it revolves around the baseball field,” Turner said.
Some of the suggestions Turner heard included a speaker system to hear players names announced and even the cages.
“I think the batting cages would be a really good thing,” she said.
Commissioner Gary Mac Herring said the Tennis Court project would be very ambitious and is much needed, but doubts if the town could provide financial assistance towards the project right now. Town officials recently approved $79,000 for new playground equipment.
Other commissioner agreed that the cages is the best option.
“It would certainly be an asset to our park,” Commissioner Teresa Wilson said.
Mayor Gerald Darden said the town could probably provide financial assistance during a new budget period which begins July 1, 2018. Williams said work will begin next year and he’s required to present the project to the Eagle Board of Review for approval.
When asked about his top choices, Williams said his personal top two were the batting cages and the amphitheater, which would be used for events such as pageants.
“Considering the amount it would get used, I think the batting cages are the way to go,” he said. “It would be used the most.”
During the presentation, Darden and commissioners applauded him for his effort to improve the park, which included a focus of the courts and amphitheater idea.
“Maybe eventually, when I’m a little older, I can step into some of that stuff and help out,” Williams said.