In 1993 a group of concerned citizens met at the Monrovia V.F.D. to discuss the shortage of baseball practice fields. Northwest Madison County was growing at a pace where present facilities could not meet the need for services. A plan was developed, and shortly after this meeting, MPRA was born. Forty-Three confident citizens signed a bank note, which would grow to over $140,000, to purchase the 18.8 acres of land Phillips Park sets on, to build and light the ball fields and construct the concessions stand and other buildings.
Sprit of Volunteerism: The Soul of MPRA
The Monrovia Parks & Recreation Association (MPRA) was established as a volunteer organization—and it still is. The only paid employee is the person who cleans the rest rooms! The property payments, lights, fencing, utilities, insurance, upkeep, and improvements are made through your concession stand purchases.
All the ball fields, except two, were named after generous donors of $5,000 or more. The two exceptions are the Willis Moore Field, named after a young man who died in the line of duty as an Alabama State Trooper, and the Earnie Willhite Field, named for a dedicated volunteer.
MPRA does not receive any scheduled government funding. From time to time MPRA has received grants thru the efforts of State Senator Tom Butler. The walking trail required 20% matching funds-Senator Tom Butler saw to it we were prepared for that by giving us a check from his discretionary funds to get us started. Senator Tom had two pieces of legislation passed that directly affects the park. The first allows the county commissioner to enter the property and assist—especially when equipment is needed. The second is a sales tax exemption for the city/county sales tax and full property tax exemption for the Phillips Park, but we must still pay the 4% State sales tax.
As a volunteer; when you see trash on the ground please pick it up, when you see vehicles in the pedestrian areas please tell the drivers "for safety reasons to please park in the parking lot", when a workday is scheduled please attend, when you see children in unsafe situations please intercede.
The Park is owned and operated by MPRA. If you wish to participate in it’s operation, you must become a MPRA member. We are a unique organization, "A Private, Non-profit, Open to the public organization that ownes and opertes a major recreation facility". I daresay there is not another in the state. Let’s continue our spirit of volunteerism—we had it before it became fashionable.
MPRA was on the way!! The community came together with sweat equity and donations. The association received an excellent start from five individuals who made major contributions of $5,000 each to build ball fields. MPRA was truly in the business of providing recreational training for the youth of rural NW Madison county.
MPRA has recently purchased an additional 9 acres of land between our existing facilities and Nick Davis Road. Plans have been formulated to develop this land into 4 additional ball fields for our children to play sports on.
The land is refered to as the New Complex and will use this name until someone steps forward and purchases the right to give it a proper name.
Monday, June 30
A Summary of Phillips Park Development
(Significant events in the history of Phillips Park)
· Jan 1993 A group of concerned citizens met at the Monrovia Fire Hall in NW Madison County to address the inadequacy of space to meet the recreation needs of the fast growing community. During 1993 the community continued to play ball at Blue Water Spring Park.
· Feb 1993 In order to formalize activities the group incorporated as Monrovia Parks & Recreation Association, Inc. (MPRA). Filed with IRS for non-profit status as a private, sports training organization, open to the public, and began a search to find property for a facility.
· Mar 1993 18.8 acres of farmland just north of Jeff Gin was located and 40 individuals sign a 10-year bank loan for $87,000 with Bankers Trust of Madison to purchase the land.
· Summer 1993 During the spring, District 4 Commissioner assisted by leveling and grading the park grounds. The association received an excellent start from four individuals who made major contributions of $5,000 each to build Rainbow, Strickland, Vaughn, and Wilson Fields. Volunteers laid out 4 ball fields, installed sprinkler systems, and laid sod. Contracts were let to installed field lights and fencing for the fields. The same 40 individuals signed a replacement bank loan for $147,000 to include the field lights and fencing for the first four fields.· Fall 1993 The first soccer teams under AYSO took to the fields. A major MPRA fund raiser was conducted which raised $18,000. Fund raisers would continue for 4 years.
· Jan 1994 Registration for the first baseball and softball season began with franchises in Dixie Youth and Babe Ruth Associations.
· Apr 1994 During the first opening ceremonies the Park was named after a local sports enthusiast, Earl Wright “Phillips”. The first year patrons of Phillips Park used “port-a-potties”, a small trailer for concessions, and tramped around in “mud”, sometimes ankle deep. It seemed to rain every day the first year.
· Spring 1994 The foundation for the concession building was laid. Blocks were added a few weeks later along with the roof and interior walls.
· July 1994 Concession electrical ruff-in was completed. The plumbing for the concession room was redone to meet Madison Co. Health Dept. Code.
· Sep 1994 Football with the Pop Warner association was organized through the city of Athens Parks & Recreation Association.
· Jan 1995 Interior of the concession room was started. FRP board installed and electrical work was completed.
· Mar 1995 Segrave field started. Another major donation of $5,000 was made to build the field. The area was leveled, sprinkler system installed, sod laid, and a contract for field fencing initiated. A playground was established with donated equipment from Mt. Zion Church.
· Spring 1995 The concession room and rest rooms continued to be worked on. Tile floors, concession equipment, septic tanks, and restroom fixtures were installed. The park opened the season with a working concession room and restrooms. The concession room is staffed by parents of team members and other volunteers. A $2000 donation was made by the COLSA Cooperation to support the Park.
· Sept 1995 A used Ford tractor model 1230A with mower was purchased.
· Oct 1995 The Basketball Program was organized and played through the county recreational program. The organization played in area school gyms and the now defunct Madison County Coliseum.
· Nov 1995 Pipes froze in the concession bldg and restrooms causing a major problem for repairs. Repairs were completed and pipes insulated.
· Spring 1996 Moore Field started. The ground was leveled, sprinkler system installed, sod laid, and field fenced in time for spring opening. The Field was named after Willis V. Moore, a local state trooper who was killed while on duty in Madison County. On May 28, 1996, MPRA received exemption from Madison County ad valorem tax and all sales and use tax through the efforts of Senator Tom Butler.
· Summer 1996 Concrete apron added around the concession building, paved the entrance drive and handicap parking areas, and graveled the remaining common areas. A $5,000 donation was received from Debbie and Greg Segraves. The Huntsville Noontime Optimist Club made a donation of $5,000.
· Nov 1996 Storage Building and Pavilion Building started. Floors, walls and roof completed.
· Mar 1997 2 batting cages added with concrete floors.
· Spring 1997 Lights were added to Segrave Field and Moore Field, the storage building, and pavilion. A $58,680 loan was obtained from First American Bank for this work.
· Apr 1997 A Madison County Library Annex opened on the park property using a double wide trailer obtained from TVA. MPRA gave a 25-year lease to the county for this purpose. The library was operated with one part time librarian and Friends of the Library volunteers.
· Jun 1997 Senator Tom Butler and Representative Lee Jorgenson made a $4,000 grant to support MPRA operations.
· Oct 1997 Pavilion Restrooms: After a good start, a long delay occurred before the restrooms were completed in time for the start of the 98-spring season.
· May 1998 The remainder of the common areas and roads were paved by MPRA.
· Mar 1999 Willhite Field Started. Field leveled, sod laid, fence added and lights installed. The field was ready for start of the spring season. The Doris Burwell Foundation made a $1,000 donation to MPRA.
· Mar 1999 A contract was initiated to add 12 foot to the concession building. The electrical room was created and the storage room interior was finished. Air conditioners installed in the new rooms.
· Apr 1999 The play ground area received a major improvement with new equipment and ground cover, all valued at over $13,000. A second air conditioner added to the concession room.
· May 2000 Madison County Commission paid to have the library parking lot paved. MPRA paid to mark off the parking lot. County Commissioner Dale Strong made a $25,000 grant to MPRA in support of recreation in the Monrovia/Harvest communities.
· Oct 2000 A $5,000 grant made by Senator Tom Butler was dedicated to the proposed walking trail.
· July 2001 A recreational walking trail was started with the aid of a grant from the Alabama Depart. of Economic and Community Affairs, (ADECA). The trail with picnic tables and rest benches was completed in Apr 2002. The main trail is .49 miles long. Additional tie-ins for the trail bring the length to .58 miles.
· Oct 2001 An addition to the Equipment Storage building was started. A 16 foot extension was added to store tractors and other machinery. Soccer disassociated itself from the Park and MPRA.
· Feb 2002 County Commission District 4 paved the parking lot’s first three rows. The paved area was striped by MPRA.
· May 2002 A concessions annex was added. A temporary building (10’ x 10’) was converted into a fast food service area for benefit of the two lower ball fields.· Sept 2002 A John Deere tractor, model 4400 with front-end loader, was purchased.
· Feb 2003 A third batting cage with concrete floor was added.
· Apr 2003 As a protective measure against foul balls 3 Safety Nets have been installed.
· Nov 2003 Phillips Park property loan paid in full. MPRA is now debt free.
· 1993 – 2003 During the first 10 years many items were purchased to support the operation: trailer, rotor-tiller, sprayer, top dresser, spreader, aerator, box, rake, PA system, air conditioners, restaurant equipment, computer, laser printer, dot matrix printer, and 3 portable pa systems.
· Jan 2005 A Lawn VAC. system to be used with the Ford tractor was purchased for $987.
· Feb 2005 A grant from Alabama Power of $1000 was used to plane 24, 6’ trees around the open areas of Phillips Park.
· Apr 2005 A central air conditioning system was installed for the concession building. The system and labor for installation, was donated by Conditioned Air. MPRA paid for the installation materials.
· Nov 2005 A major building expansion was initiated. The concession room was doubled in size and a 30 ft. pavilion added to the concession building. The construction was done buy Ty Rains Construction Co. and completed in Mar 2006.
· Apr 2006 A Field Conditioner, Smithco Super Star V, w/2 implements was purchased for $11,860. The unit is used to prepare ball fields before and after games.