Jul. 24—HANCEVILLE — Hanceville's public parks footprint is set to grow, thanks to a private property donation that'll add close to 20 acres of land — and a new botanical park named for the city's benefactor — along a well-traveled stretch of U.S. Highway 31.
At its regular meeting this week, the Hanceville City Council unanimously agreed to accept 19.52 acres of land as a gift from property owner Lillie Tucker. And one of its very first moves as the new owners of the property was to name the new park that will occupy the space in honor of Lillie and her late husband, Larry Tucker.
Though mayor Kenneth Nail said it will take some time for the city to begin developing amenities at the new park, there's already a long-term vision for how the park will fit in with Hanceville's other public spaces. That's reflected in the park's name: it'll be known as The Larry and Lillie Tucker Arboretum.
As an arboretum, the park will be lightly developed as a curated natural space; one that features local flora (and perhaps even some strategically-placed fauna) with only a modest construction footprint. The city's still early in planning for any structures that could be erected at the park, but Nail and council members discussed ideas at its Thursday meeting that included elevated wooden walkways, signage identifying featured plants and wildlife, and an outdoor pavilion.
"We've got some good things planned already, and of course the council will need to be in agreement on anything that we do," said Nail. "We've talked with engineers about building an outdoor learning pavilion over there. The location also puts us in a position where we're going to have access to the state right of way.
"There may be an opportunity there to link the park with Veterans Park across the road — for guests to walk right under the Mud Creek bridge on Highway 31, and end up and Veterans Park without having to fight any traffic. And we want to keep everything natural. If the council approves it, the idea is even to keep the trails natural — no concrete."
The council also approved a property tax credit for Tucker, whose donated land was appraised ahead of the gift for an estimated $200,000. Though the land's depth largely adjoins the city's Fire Station No. 1 across from Hanceville City Hall, a portion of the property also directly abuts U.S. Highway 31 on its western side.