Greenville is requesting proposals from designers for the renovation of Mayberry Field at Unity Park.
The city is seeking experienced and qualified planning/design consultants or similar professionally qualified consultants such as engineers, architects and landscape architects as well as experts in sports field design and construction to provide administration services to renovate the field.
The project includes the design of the Little League regulation baseball field including grandstand bleachers, press box, batting cages, dugouts, bullpen and concessions stand.
Prior to construction of Unity Park, Mayberry Field got heavy use by the recreation leagues, said Bill Fox of the Hughes Agency.
He said it was in rotation and used on a regular basis, but it did not drain well due to the soil and the fact that it was somewhat sunken, so even a light rain would leave it too wet to use for days.
The original plans for Unity Park called for renovating and preserving the historic Mayberry Park, and Craig and Vicki Brown were among the first private donors to contribute to Unity Park, specifically for Mayberry, said Fox. However, due to several factors, Mayberry Field’s renovation was not completed in time for the park opening, though a considerable amount of earth work and grading has already taken place, he added.
The Hughes Agency is anticipating a groundbreaking before the end of the year to get the renovations rolling, said Fox.
“My understanding from the city parks and rec department is that they anticipate as much or more usage of the ballfield once complete,” said Fox. “It will certainly not face the drainage issue is has in the past. The new ballfield will be constructed to Little League dimensions. These dimensions are ideal for the site, given the topography. Most significantly, this is a hugely historic piece of Unity Park and carries significant meaning to the surrounding neighborhoods.”
Unity Park merges what was once two segregated parks: Mayberry Park for Black residents and Meadowbrook Park for white residents.
For decades many of the city’s least desirable features were clustered together in a bleak, swampy area with a history of neglect, environmental abuse and racial inequity. On the land where Unity Park now stands, there was once a stockade, a dog pound, and a police shooting range, which shared the only area where children from nearby neighborhoods were allowed to play.
In 1927, the city built a park for Black children not allowed to play in segregated parks elsewhere in the city. The 15 acres of marshy meadowland, named Mayberry Park, included an athletic field with bleachers and a basic playground. Though open just six hours a day, five days a week, Mayberry Park served as the center of community life for the West Greenville and Southernside neighborhoods starting in the 1930s.
After voters approved a $110,000 bond referendum in 1924 to build Cleveland Park, the city set aside $15,000 (the equivalent of more than $200,000 in today’s dollars) to purchase 15 acres on Mayberry Street to build a park for children not allowed to play in the segregated parks elsewhere in the city. Mayberry Park opened in 1925, and a few years later, the city committed additional funds for an athletic field with bleachers and playground equipment.
Less than a decade after creating Mayberry Park, the city used a 50-foot strip of land in the park for a police shooting range. In 1938, Greenville voted to lease half of the land inside Mayberry Park to a Baltimore businessman at no cost to build Meadowbrook Park for an all-white minor league team. More land was taken for stadium parking and to extend left field.
Today, the 60-acre Unity Park pays homage to the legacies of the neighborhoods surrounding it and the people who brought the city to where it is now. Areas of the park are named Mayberry Field and Meadowbrook Green in honor of the history of Mayberry and Meadowbrook parks. Nearby land owned by the city of Greenville has been set aside for affordable housing.
Greenville Purchasing Administrator Rod Gray said this is an open/active bid request posting, and the city cannot provide any additional details at this time.
The closing date for the posting is 2 p.m. Sept. 28.