There’s been a flurry of activity in recent months at Gill Street Park and the work isn’t stopping anytime soon.
The members of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Chi Rho Omega chapter have been making improvements at the park after selecting the park from among a number of potential work sites throughout northeastern Wake County.
Sorority members have spread mulch under playground equipment, painted most of the equipment at the park, including many of the playground pieces and the trash receptacles, repaired basketball backboards and put up nets on the goals at the basketball court.
The work is all part of the international sorority’s focus on environmental ownership, which is one of the organization’s new service intitiatives over a four-year period extending until 2018.
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Chapter president Erica Barnhill said the project has been a significant commitment for the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha. “It gives me pride that our work will give people who use it something they can be proud of. When I look at this park, I think about how happy people will be with it,” Barnhill said.
The park is owned and operated by the town of Zebulon. Parks and Recreation Director Greg Johnson said the work Alpha Kappa Alpha members have put into Gill Street Park is showing. “This is probably our busiest park. You can come out here most any day after school and especially on the weekends and there are people here all the time,” Johnson said.
Sorority members considered parks in Wendell, Knightdale, Zebulon, Rolesville and Wake Forest. Club members visited each site and reviewed the work that needed to be done at each location before settling on the Gill Street park as the focus of their community service.
Internationally, Alpha Kappa Alpha hopes to complete renovations and improvements at 1,908 parks around the world through its Restore, Refresh and Renew Project. The sorority, which boasts more than 265,000 members worldwide, was founded in 1908.
The look of the park has changed dramatically over the past several years. At one point, the park was enclosed by a chain-link fence, which has since been removed, opening the space. Broken glass from liquor and beer bottles has been removed and the colorful playground equipment provides a stark contrast to the groomed green grass that covers the small park.
Alpha Kappa Alpha members are not finished with their work. Their work is slated to continue through 2018. Sorority members hope to form a partnership with playground equipment maker KaBoom to expand the swingset at the park. The current swingset is a one-bay unit, with two swings - one for children and another for toddlers. If the sorority is successful in its efforts to recruit help from KaBoom, the current swingset will be replaced with a two-bay unit that has two toddler seats and two seats for children.
The group also hopes to expand parking and build a sidewalk along the Gill Street side of the park, though club members admit those are big dollar improvements and will require significant fundraising by the group.