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A Park on the Rebound

Solvitur ambulando. It is solved by walking.

We've all been there. Maybe it was a work issue. Maybe it was a family disagreement. Maybe it was when you had an article due for Canton Family Life, and you were right up against a deadline. We've all been at that point where we need to put our feet on the ground and go for a walk. Fresh air, sunshine (or, if you are a bit more daring, moonlight), and the earth under our soles help us make sense of the conflicts of the mind and the heart.

What does that mean for city life? Yes, you can walk the sidewalks with cars streaming by. You can even take some solace in the broken patchwork of an asphalt parking lot. Instead, I like to find a park with grass, shade trees, and a place to walk or rest quietly and listen.

Canton residents and visitors have a plethora of riches when it comes to the parks in our city. Miles of trails along the river, acres of grassy greenspace for sports, and an abundance of places for recreation. At Etowah River Park, you can sit and enjoy a game of chess or checkers on dedicated stone tables with painted checkerboards. You can hit tennis balls at Boling Park, and, very soon, you'll have a brand new mini-pitch soccer field at Harmon Park, partially funded through a grant from Atlanta United.

As beautiful as these parks are, two smaller Canton parks are neglected. Most readers don't know about them, and even fewer have ever visited them.

McCanless Park on Muriel Street is home to Boy Scout Troop 241. It has a small playground and two covered pavilions with picnic tables. It serves as the weekly gathering place for scouts to organize, learn various life skills, and develop leadership techniques.

Burge Park is located on Crisler and Burge Streets in the Stumptown neighborhood. A historic Black neighborhood, Stumptown was settled by freedmen after emancipation. Generations of families were born and raised in that community.

The park is named after the Burge family who operated a school for Black children on the site of the basketball court. Founded in the 1960s, the park served as a gathering place for the community. Over the last 20 years, some volunteers, including the Canton Explorers program, tried to freshen up the park. But without city investment, the park has fallen into disarray.

In October of this year, Canton City Council voted to invest time, energy, and money to bring Burge Park up to the same quality as our other parks. A park expansion is planned that will offer updated amenities for the community.

Over and over, studies confirm that access to well-maintained, aesthetically appealing public recreation areas is an effective tool to combat obesity rates and other chronic diseases. By improving Burge Park and continuing to provide recreational amenities to increase the use of all our parks, Canton is promoting healthy lifestyles and enhancing public health.

I challenge you to go out and visit each of our eight unique public parks: Boling, Brown, Burge, Cannon, Etowah River, Harmon, Heritage, and McCanless. Each park is waiting to help you to get moving and find a solution to whatever questions you face. 

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