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Thorsby plans Dearl Hilyer Park

Green space: Thorsby officials plan to turn a 0.8-acre piece of property behind Dollar General into Dearl Hilyer Park.

Green space: Thorsby officials plan to turn a 0.8-acre piece of property behind Dollar General into Dearl Hilyer Park. (Photo by Stephen Dawkins)A planned park could commemorate a Thorsby landmark and memorialize a popular recent mayor.

A planned park could commemorate a Thorsby landmark and memorialize a popular recent mayor.

Thorsby officials have discussed building Dearl Hilyer Park, which would be located on town-owned property between Summit Street and Jones Street, behind Dollar General.

A preliminary plan for the park was presented to the Town Council on July 6, after architects met with Mayor Jean Nelson and Councilman Glenn Littleton.

A preliminary plan has been reviewed by town leaders and calls for a walking track and other attractions. Changes will be made before the the plan is finalized. (Contributed)

A preliminary plan has been reviewed by town leaders and calls for a walking track and other attractions. Changes will be made before the the plan is finalized. (Contributed)

The council talked about the plan, which was then on display at Thorsby Town Hall for public feedback. Nelson also shared the plan with the Swedish Festival Committee, which paid for the plan to be produced.

The plan calls for a walking track and benches around the park, which along with parking will fill the 0.8-acre piece of property. The park would have ample open space as well as shade from existing trees and gazebos or pavilions.

A small parking lot (10-15 spaces) would be located on the Jones Street side of the park, while the Summit Street side will feature another entrance, possibly with steps going under an archway that could bear the name of the park, which is meant to memorialize a former mayor.

Dearl Hilyer was mayor of Thorsby until his passing in October 2012 at age 44.

The property was given to the town by Dollar General when the store was built. Officials realized it wasn’t large enough for any commercial use, so they decided to turn it into something residents would enjoy.

“We just decided it would be a good place for a park, and we wanted to name it in Dearl Hilyer’s name,” Nelson said.

A small building on the property, which was once a storage building for an adjacent chicken house, could be made into a barbecue pit.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the park would be the Water Tower Plaza, which would mark the location of an old water tower that provided water to the town.

“That’s something that we didn’t want to lose,” Littleton said.

Town landmark: The park would commemorate the site of the old Thorsby water tower, which provided water to the town and was located adjacent to the old Cosmopolitan Hotel, which burned in 1918. (Contributed)

Town landmark: The park would commemorate the site of the old Thorsby water tower, which provided water to the town and was located adjacent to the old Cosmopolitan Hotel, which burned in 1918. (Contributed)

The footers for the old tower are still at the location, and officials plan to make the site visually appealing through the use of landscaping and having the walking track wrap around the plaza.

Officials envision a quiet, peaceful park, where residents can take a walk or enjoy a picnic.

The plan is preliminary, and thus subject to change. Also, the project depends on the town being approved for grant money for funding.

“It will be similar to what they’ve drawn, but there will have to be some changes,” Nelson said.

The water tower was located next to the former Cosmpolitan Hotel, which burned in 1918.

Littleton said he’s seen a town map from 1896 that showed the site of Dearl Hilyer Park was planned to be Concordia Park, though the plan never came to fruition.

“I started calling it Dearl Hilyer Park because I thought it would be the perfect way to honor him,” Littleton said.