ARCADIA — Mosaic announced Thursday night that it is giving the city a grant of $500,000 toward the renovation of McSwain Park.
The block-long park, bordered by U.S. 17 and State Road 70, is in the heart of downtown Arcadia. Two classes in the DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce Leadership DeSoto program have worked on plans to renovate the deteriorated park and make it a vibrant part of downtown.
At a ceremonial groundbreaking at the park Thursday, Mosaic Public Affairs Manager Heather Nedley said, “The strength and vibrancy of our local communities are the roots of our success, and Mosaic has a long history of investing in our current and future operating areas. We believe in public/private partnerships and are pleased to support the beginning phases of the McSwain Park renovation through a Mosaic grant to the city of Arcadia. We look forward to working with the community as this transformation in the heart of DeSoto County takes place in the coming months and years.”
Concept plans drawn by the firm Simply Verde include a playground accessible to disabled children, a central gathering place, a quiet garden for reflection and an interactive water feature. Also included are restrooms and parking. Total costs are estimated at $1.5 million. The second and third leadership classes have raised more than $30,000 toward the renovation project.
The playground is being funded by a grant from the Selby Foundation, and work has begun already. Terry West of Hand of Angels, which specializes in assisting families with special-needs children, spearheaded the effort to have a playground in DeSoto County where all children can play.
“My grandson is in a wheelchair,” she said, “and not a single playground in town is accessible to him.”
The park was named after Dr. Daniel Lafayette McSwain, who opened his medical practice in Arcadia around 1900. He would travel hundreds of miles by horse and buggy visiting patients, said his great-grandson, Arcadia Realtor Gordon “Mac” Martin. McSwain founded the surgery department at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. In 1938, Martin said, the park was dedicated in McSwain’s honor by the Women’s Club.
Mosaic plans to build and operate a phosphate mine and beneficiation plant on an 18,000-acre tract in northwest DeSoto County. A draft Areawide Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed DeSoto mine (and others) was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is open for public comment through July 31 (more information is available at www.phosphateaeis.org).
The proposed mine is expected to begin operating in 2021, and would run for 36 years.