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Maypearl: A growing city eager for completion of a local park

Patty Hullett
The Daily Light
The fundraising goal thermometer for the park.

The Ellis County City of Maypearl, located 10 miles southwest of Waxahachie, is called “a pearl in the heart of North Texas”. Its citizens would heartily agree. In 2018, Maypearl’s population was recorded at 1,033; today the area around the city is exploding with growth. Founded in 1904, the Maypearl Independent School District has nearly 400 students (2020) in its U.I.L. 3A public high school. The population surge will be served well by a planned multi-generation park in the works, once funding goals are reached.

History of park site

The new park will be conveniently located in the midst of downtown Maypearl -- behind the Busy Bee Cafe and across from the Police Station/City Hall – safely located for residents’ easy access.

Originally, the site was where William “Peary” Wilemon (1909-1993) and his wife Francis Josephine “Bunch” Wilemon (1911-1995) stored hundreds of cotton bales at the Wilemon Gin and Grain. The town’s only cotton gin was located in town just around the corner. The company’s motto, “Serving the Community,” is still being honored through family tradition today: The original land site of the gin buildings, which have been demolished, was recently gifted to a local church.

David Wilemon grew up in Maypearl and was the son of gin owners Peary and Bunch Wilemon. The Wilemon family generously donated the park site in 2014, with the goal of providing a state-of-the-art, multi-generational park to benefit their friends and neighbors in and around Maypearl. Upon the death of David Wilemon in August 2019, donations for park development arrived from across the country honoring his life and the park project he so loved.

David’s wife, Jane Wilemon, explains, “Dave and I moved from Syracuse, New York, where Dave was a professor at Syracuse University for 43 years, back to Maypearl some 12 years ago. Dave felt good about coming ‘full circle’ back to his hometown.” Even in retirement, Dave was not one without goals and aspirations, so he, Jane and their son Mike began a cow/calf operation on their 600 acres in and around Maypearl.

Given that Ellis County used to be the “Cotton King” area of the world, much of their acreage had been planted in cotton. Dave, Jane and Mike, all born naturalists, reclaimed much of the acreage by planting native grasses, which provide healthy, nutritious pastures for their stock while at the same time benefit the environment.

Friends of Maypearl, COVID effects and a new committee

Friends of Maypearl, along with the Cowboy Bank and City of Maypearl, are the primary financial backers of this park. Many businesses, organizations, and individuals also have contributed to help the local park become a reality.

Fundraising efforts have included annual events by Friends of Maypearl, such as their 5K walks/runs, music festivals, live and silent auctions, and July 4th festivities. Members of the organization also sell bricks and pavers as an additional way to raise park money.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, all of the 2020 fundraising events have been canceled, in addition to the Cowboy Bank’s largest fundraiser, Texas Roundup, a statewide basketball event. Now, instead of events, they are relying solely on contributions from various groups and individuals who have a vision of the benefits this park will provide for people of all ages.

The newly-named “Wilemon Community Park” Committee consists of Larry Burns, president of the Cowboy Bank of Texas; Stephen Daniel, attorney at Clay Jenkins & Associates; Jane Wilemon, retired educator/consultant and marriage and family therapist; and Matt Young, Parks and Recreation Director in Mansfield, Texas.

There is a 4’X8’ donation board installed on Main Street in front of the Busy Bee, which will be documenting fundraising progress. The bottom of the thermometer shows the $166,000 already raised, with the current goal of $250,000 at the top – leaving $84,000 yet to be raised for Phase One of the park. The total goal for the project is $750,000.

Features of a multi-generational park

The city has been awarded a $75,000 matching grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Park construction has begun, and the grading and drainage work, along some parking spaces along the park’s perimeter, have been completed.

The goal for the project is to create a destination park, offering the community and surrounding areas a place for friends and neighbors to enjoy for generations to come. When the park’s three phases are completed, it will boast a pavilion, playground, walking trail with exercise stations, a basketball and volleyball court, gazebo, picnic areas, trees, lights, and other amenities.

One highly-motivated resident has taken on the task of raising money solely for playground development. A Maypearl couple is donating a free library for the park. Landscaping has been donated to be planted when the time is right, and pavers and memorial bricks are among other donated gifts.

The Wilemon Community Park is being designed to promote physical and mental health and recreation for those of all ages. It will provide ramps for the handicapped, a 6’ walking path accommodating walkers, bikers and strollers and workout stations along the walking path designed specifically for older enthusiasts. Those involved in park planning are excited about their vision of becoming a leader in providing park activities for the elderly. Opportunities for seniors include low impact equipment designed to promote flexibility, balance and coordination, muscle strength and tone, extend range of motion, and improved mental dexterity. There will be social hub areas promoting opportunities for new friendships and socializing.

Jane Wilemon says of her city, “I like the friendliness and smiles shared when seeing others in our community. Maypearl inspires and delivers support for those in need, continuing to make Maypearl a place worthy of our reputation. With the help of Maypearl and the surrounding communities, we will make this park a genuine benefit to all our citizens living in and around Maypearl – young and old alike.”

Donations can be mailed-in to “Friends of Maypearl”, P.O. Box 417, Maypearl, TX 76064, or credit card donations can be called-in to Denise King at the Cowboy Bank at (972) 435-2131 Contributions can also be made online at: https://form.jotform.com/201634965666162.

Maypearl Park grading and parking areas under construction.