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Despite being the site of a murder, T.S. Martin's daughter looks to make changes to park

Published: Mar. 17, 2015 at 6:31 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 27, 2015 at 8:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Columbia police are still asking for your help to find who is responsible for the shooting death of 17-year-old Eric Washington.

The C.A. Johnson senior was shot and killed Sunday night at T.S. Martin Park. The park is located off Two Notch Road and Germany Street and right behind W.A. Perry Middle School.

The park was named after Thomas Sinkler Martin in 1980, a community activist concerned with youth and health and wellness. His daughter, Willa Martin Bailey, is now working to make some changes to the park that carries her father's name.

Bailey recently moved back home to Columbia and one of her projects has been to make positive improvements to the park and surrounding area.

Meanwhile, the City of Columbia is already 2 years into a 5-year Master Plan for "Parks and Recreation."

"It's unfortunate the park looks about the same as it did in 1980, but on a positive note, we're working toward improving the park," Bailey said.

Bailey wants to see several changes, such as a water feature, better fencing, a walking trail, shelter, and security cameras.

"We need things that can deter crime from happening and one way to do that is through sports and involvement in educational and health and wellness," Bailey said.

In recent months, Bailey has met with assistant city manager for the city of Columbia, Allison Baker. He says T.S. Martin is on a list of older city parks that needs some attention.

The park sits between a neighborhood and a school. It's considered fairly isolated. It's a community that's seen some investment, but Bailey says the improvements need to extend beyond the park.

"We are forgotten," Bailey said. "This is a little inner city pocket of Columbia that provides workforce housing and educational opportunities that no other community in Columbia provides. We want to make sure we're still vital economically to this community."

Baker says park improvements must be approved by council.

In 2013 the city created a 5 year plan to address city-wide park improvements, but it's up to the Columbia City Council and the city manager with the help of the community to determine which parks deserve the priority.

It's a matter of funding, resources, and priorities.

"The community has to come together, has to come out and take pride and ownership of this community," Bailey said.

The next step is more dialogue on what improvements should be made and getting community input.

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