LIVE OAK — Improvements to Baker Park were dedicated last week in honor of former councilman George Blake.
Jacobs, the company that provides the city’s public works services, constructed a new grill by the George Blake Pavilion as well as adding handicap parking spaces and a sidewalk at the park.
Mayor Frank Davis said it was just an example of the extra work that Jacobs provides the city outside of its contract.
Jose Guzman, project manager with Jacobs, said it is not nearly enough to repay the Blake family for the service Blake provided while serving from 1990 to 2006.
“It’s not easy to being four terms on the spot, making decisions of growth for the city,” Guzman said. “So whatever we do, it will not be enough to repay all the effort, all the hours he spent away from you guys doing his chores. I’m really thankful we have another breed of council members here that are following the same steps.
“We’re here to celebrate, not the loss, but the time we had him with us.”
Davis added: “Of course, we appreciate all that council member Blake did for us. You’re right, it’s not easy. Usually you make about two terms and then they’re ready for somebody else. But he made four and then he basically he decided on his own.
“He did a great job for us.”
Davis said when his family moved into the neighborhood surrounding Baker Park, located at 1318 Marion Street SW, in the early 1990s, the park looked nothing like it does today.
The park, he said, was an afterthought, receiving old slides and equipment from other parks. But Julie Ulmer, Blake’s daughter, made sure the park was upgraded.
“Our kids came over here and they basically lived here in this park,” Davis said. “(Julie) worked with Greg (Scott, director of Suwannee County Parks and Recreation) and we were able to get a nice playground facility here.”
The park also now has a pavilion, the George Blake Pavilion, and the new upgrades.
“George loved serving the city,” said Joan Blake, his widow. “He said one thing that stuck with me. He said that if you were wrong about your decision, the people would vote you out. But if you are right about your decision, they’ll applaud you and love what you’ve done. So, I think many times he got the love and not the bad news.”
That love has continued with the park improvement dedication.