New park honors memory of 'wonderful' woman
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Thanks to a land donation and a state grant, the newest park in Salisbury opened Saturday for all to enjoy.
Foil-Tatum Park, located at 223 N. McCoy Road, serves the Milford Knoll, Milford Hills and Meadowbrook neighborhoods. It features a walking trail, wooded areas, picnic tables and a playground.
“This is a particularly special day,” said Mayor Susan Kluttz. “Not just because we are acquiring this beautiful new park in the city of Salisbury, but because of the wonderful person that it’s named in memory of, Frances Lynne Foil Tatum.”
Walter Tatum offered to donate his family’s land in 2008 for a 3.6-acre park in memory of his wife, who died in 2006.
At Saturday’s opening ceremony, Tatum said his late wife’s grandparents built the house that used to be on the land in the early 1900s. That house was moved off the property in three pieces, and will be used to build two new houses.
Frances Lynne would have wanted other families to play on the land and have fun the way hers did, he said.
“I would hate to see condos and townhouses in here,” Tatum said. “This land meant so much to her. This is fantastic.”
In July 2010, the Salisbury Parks and Recreation Department won a $78,625 grant from the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to develop the park.
Gail Elder White, city parks and recreation director, said Tatum’s donation was counted as the required local match.
City staff met three times in 2009 with park neighbors to develop a master plan for Foil-Tatum Park, and the final design came out of those sessions, Elder White said.
After the ceremony to open the park Saturday, several children ran straight for the playset, calling back in excitement for their parents.
Tim and Laura Fry, who live right next to the park, came to the opening ceremony Saturday with their 3-year-old daughter, Ellen.
They found out about the park when Ellen was just a few months old and have been waiting for it ever since.
“We’ve been excited for a long time for her,” Laura said. “She’s been asking all summer, ‘When will the park be open?’ ”
As their daughter scampered around the tree-lined walking path, Tim tried out the exercise stations placed beside it.
“The park has a little bit of everything. It’s great,” he said.
Rob Altemare took his two daughters, 8-year-old Bella and 4-year-old Sophie, to the park Saturday.
“It’s in a great spot for our neighborhood,” he said. “And there’s no parking, which makes it a pure neighborhood park.”
Altemare said he likes that he can run around the track and still see his daughters. The park is surrounded by trees, but its landscape is mostly open, and the playset sits at the highest point.
A few children played Frisbee in the large, grassy area in the center of the park.
Some adults sat on benches or gathered at the picnic tables under a pavilion.
Salisbury resident Gary Taylor said the park is a way to share the kind of person Frances Lynne was with others.
His wife, Sally, said it feels like her friend is still here.
“She was one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve ever known, and I always felt like it was an honor to be around her,” Sally said. “She had a heart of gold.”
Walter Tatum and his daughter, Lynne Tatum Little, unveiled a memorial marker during Saturday’s ceremony. Made of granite pulled from old Salisbury streets, it dedicates the park in honor of Frances Lynne.
“We’re so excited as a family to have this piece of property go to you, to the citizens of Salisbury and especially to the neighbors,” Little said. “Hopefully, many, many generations can always enjoy this land as much as our family has enjoyed it.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.