Planned Storybook Trail at Waterworth Memorial Park | News, Sports, Jobs

SALEM – The Salem Parks Commission has approved a Brightside Project proposal to build a storytelling trail.

“We appreciate you bringing this proposal to us and giving us the opportunity to work with you and be at the forefront of change,” said parks manager Shane Franks.

The project is designed to increase and encourage children’s literacy in conjunction with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, and will install 18 kiosks along the nature trail at Waterworth Memorial Park. The booths will each contain a laminated page of a selected storybook from the Imagination Library and include an interactive element for children to play with. The course will be updated with new pages twice a year.

The Brightside Project assumes full financial responsibility for construction and maintenance, with the Parks Department assisting in the installation and maintenance of the trail. The kiosks will also feature a QR code that parents can scan to enroll their children in the Library of Imagination.

“It’s about getting kids to read and encouraging literacy,” said Project Brightside founder and executive director Scott Lewis.

The Brightside Project will accept sponsors for all 18 booths, with each booth costing $350 and sponsors receiving a plaque engraved on their booth. Lewis noted that they have already sponsored four booths. For more information, the Brightside Project can be contacted by phone at 234-320-4005 or by email at

The commission also discussed serious and persistent behavioral issues at the Centennial Park pool. There has been an issue with people leaving litter at the pool this season which has resulted in a large build up at the end of the night which is difficult for lifeguards to properly dispose of. It was noted that much of this waste did not come from food and drink purchased at the concession stand, but from items brought in by visitors. Parks Commission Vice President Lucile Karnofel suggested reminding guests to dispose of their food and drink waste when entering the pool, noting that if the problem persists they may have to ban it altogether food and drinks outside the pool.

There have also been serious issues of people not obeying pool rules and disobeying lifeguards, with some incidents becoming serious enough to require police intervention. One such incident, on July 7, saw a teenage visitor threaten to stab a lifeguard, causing the pool to close with around 60 guests present and the lifeguard fearing for their safety.

Parks Commission Chairman John Panezott suggested starting to call the police immediately after a visitor refuses to leave or becomes aggressive to help prevent future incidents of such seriousness. Franks said they need to start banning people for offenses and give lifeguards the power to not only evict people but to impose temporary bans, and that those bans need to be enforced and the behavior will end by improving. Franks also noted that any complaints about the policy could be directed to him and that it was a better alternative to shutting down the pool completely, which might require lingering issues.

In other cases, the commission approved the replacement and rekeying of all locks in the park service system, totaling 28 door locks, 49 padlocks and 58 keys, including 10 master keys to open all locks. The Salem Community Foundation has agreed to contribute $1,494 for Centennial Park locks and keys and $1,409 for Waterworth Memorial Park locks and keys. The parks department will pay $1,097 for the remaining locks and keys.

“Our keys have been spread across town over the years, and it’s just time to upgrade our locks,” said Franks.

The commission also approved the replacement of two Salem City Lake employees who had resigned.

The next park commission meeting will be at 5 p.m. on August 24 at the park office.

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