Would you like to feel less stress, be more relaxed, increase your physical fitness or just enjoy getting out of the house? Consider spending some of your leisure time this year in a nearby beautiful green space, like a public park. Visiting public parks can be a mood enhancing and physically enriching experience. Bring your sunscreen, a good book, a picnic or a friend, and bask in the breeze and fresh grass in a natural setting. Freeman Park is located at 845 State Street in the Hamlet of Mumford, the park has a very nice pavilion that includes a kitchen that can be reserved for use by both Town residents and by non-residents for a fee. The park also includes a combination of playground equipment, a baseball/softball field and plenty of green space that can be used for all sorts of fun with family and friends.
Freeman Park was named for James Freeman, who came to Mumford in about 1880 and opened blacksmith and carriage shops right on the site of the present park. He was involved in the affairs of the community, owned considerable property, and served as Mumford postmaster from 1897 until 1915. Freeman Park was dedicated as the first Public Park owned and maintained by the Town of Wheatland on July 14, 1962. The Park dedication was a gala event with speeches, games and band music along with hot dogs, soda pop and free ice cream. An exhibition women’s softball game was played between the Wheatland Scottys and the Caledonia-Mumford Team.
There have been a multitude of community events and activities have been held at Freeman Park, including: Summer Youth Programs, softball and baseball games, concerts, movie nights, flea markets, car shows, Fire Department field days, carnivals. The Wheatland Recreation Commission began offering a summer youth program at the park in 1965 for Town residents 6 years of age and older, activities included: playground activities, outdoor games (such as croquet, softball, badminton, horseshoes, volleyball and kickball), crafts, cards and checkers. This summer youth program was the precursor to today’s Wheatland Recreation Summer “Fun” Day Camp now held at Johnson Park in Scottsville.
Freeman Park has been a true community endeavor. There have been many changes and upgrades to Freeman Park over time, supported through a combination of public grants, organizational donations (i.e., Sabin Metal, the former Nothnagle Realtors, Caledonia Mumford Lion's Club), charitable individuals and even local Eagle Scout candidates among others who are too many to name individually. In 1979, the Town contracted the movement of the Pavilion to its current location to make it more visible and accessible for all residents. In the early 1990's a concrete floor was added to the pavilion through a combination of donations and local labor effort. In 2001, a grant was received which enabled refurbishing of several park facilities, including: new fences, playground equipment and lighting. In 2005, another grant was used to upgrade the pavilion kitchen, existing ramps and walkways. In 2016 a handicap accessible swing was added to facilitate inclusion in park fun for those with disabilities. Mary Ann McGinnis and Mary Ann O'Dell have spent years donating their gardening skills and love of Mumford to beautify the park with flowers.
Like many other municipalities, the Town of Wheatland has endured the destructive effects of the emerald ash borer. In 2018, when it became apparent that the large ash tree located at the entrance was diseased, a creative solution was offered by the highway superintendent at the time, Chuck Hazelton, to turn the base of the tree into a decorative wood carving sculpture with a design that highlights the eagles known to be nesting in rural areas of the Town. What a great addition to the ambiance of the Park. The park is maintained by the Town of Wheatland Highway Department led by Highway Superintendent and Parks Director Josh Davis. The park is available for private use events and activities such as family reunions and organizational picnics. Reservations for park use can be made at the Wheatland Town Clerk’s Office, by completing a Freeman Park Permit Application. Note that Freeman Park is an alcohol and tobacco free area.