MIDLOTHIAN — Off the beaten path is a hidden treasure that lies within the legacy of a beloved grandmother and a family’s in-depth contribution to the community.
On June 8, the City of Midlothian reopened the Margie Webb Park, not only to fill the community's need for a toddler park but also to honor the Webb family name.
“We recognize the fact, as is the case in many cities, that once you set up a park, they tend to get set aside,” began Jamie Wickliffe, granddaughter of Margie Webb. “But the City of Midlothian has done a great job of circling back around and making sure they keep viable park locations, and it means a lot to us to see this one continue to have a place in the community."
Since moving to Midlothian in 1940, Erdie and Margie Webb were active within the community for over 77 years, adding value to an assortment of projects throughout the years.
“A lot of people don’t know that my granddad, and a lot of other young business people in this town 70 years ago, had to do a lot of heavy lifting because there was no city fire department, ambulance service, or paved streets,” Wickliffe explained.
“My granddad and a bunch of other men built the civic center, literally by hand so that the community could have a community center. They built the Fieldhouse at the high school, they wired the J.R. Irvin Gym and did things that if you look today, it’s things you don’t want people to forget, and it’s the roots that we sprung from,” she acknowledged.
“The Webb family has a very long history in our community, so from that aspect, they’ve always given a lot to our community, and this is just one example of that,” added Chris Dick, City Manager, about the park's dedication.
The park’s property was donated to the city in the 1970s, originally used as an emergency helicopter-landing pad.
“They needed an emergency response, and we didn’t have an ambulance service, so they needed some place for local hospitals to drop a helicopter in when there were bad injuries,” Wickliffe affirmed. “And this park used to be just that.”
After the city had grown into its own, adding on emergency services, the helipad was no longer in need, and the city repurposed it for a community park in the late 1990s.
“It’s not far from where we all spent lots of hours,” Wickliffe recollected the memories on West Railway Avenue. “It’s not far from my grandparent’s hardwood store where they were in business here for 50 years, and we love the fact that we can walk from our current office locations and have lunch and bring our kids here too.”
Sitting on a quarter-acre of land, the neighborhood park was once again revamped to be Midlothian’s first “toddler park,” opening last Thursday, June 8.
“This is our first toddler park that’s catered to children ages two to five,” reaffirmed Billy King, Parks & Recreation Manager. “All of our other parks were mainly for children five and up, so this particular playground and equipment that’s here is for toddlers.”
“We thought this park would be the best area for that because it’s small, so moms can bring their toddlers and not worry about their kids being out of reach,” he added.
Through a four-month process of building, excavating, and installing park equipment and landscaping, the project was the first to be built by the city.
“We usually have a contractor come in and put everything together, but we did everything ourselves, and this is the first park we put together,” King noted.
“The only thing that’s originally still here is the large swing. What we did is replace all the hardware on it and repaint it, but the little T-swing and playground is new,” he added. “We also did the border and the handicap access for both playground areas.”
Complete with a “toddler safe” playground, two sets of swings, a vine-covered pavilion and picnic tables lining the park, the handicap accessible area is now open to the families of Midlothian.
As for the future of the park, a strong legacy remains intact, as it continues to serve the public for generations to come.
“It’s always been an asset to the community, and we hope now that more people will be able to come out and use it,” Dick encouraged.
“We were raised up that our family’s contribution to the community was an expectation of us, and we hope we will continue to plant those seeds in the future generations,” Wickliffe recognized. “We continue to talk about how important that is to the longevity of the community, and to give back.”
“And that even in ten to 50 years from now, maybe that won’t be forgotten that it’s somebody might Google the name and learn something about the history and heritage of the folks that came before them,” she finished with a grin.
The Margie Webb Park is located on 200 West Railway Avenue. For more information, visit midlothian.tx.us/25/Parks-and-Recreation or call (972) 775-7777.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer