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Bailey School Forest in Newport gets park pavilion honoring longtime volunteer

The Bailey School Forest, the city of Newport's largest park and an outdoor classroom for an estimated 3,000 school kids each year, will get its first park pavilion this summer.

The Newport City Council this month OK'd construction of a 45-square-foot park gazebo in the 80-acre park located near Century Avenue and Wildwood Trail near the city's border with Woodbury.

Laced with hiking trails, the grassy, wooded park that is a designated environmental learning park for District 833 isn't lacking in natural beauty. But hikers -- and the thousands of students who study the outdoors there each year -- have had no place to rest or gather out of the elements.

The estimated $50,000 project will construct the pavilion and outfit it with picnic tables.

"We felt something that was open and airy, yet had a roof over the top, would serve multiple purposes," said City Administrator Brian Anderson.

Mayor Tim Geraghty said the construction of a gazebo at Bailey School Forest "is long overdue." Geraghty said he hopes to dedicate the structure by August, before the 2012-13 school year begins.

Honoring Mike Phillips

The gazebo will be named in honor of the late Mike Phillips, a longtime Newport parks commissioner, volunteer and outdoors advocate whom Mayor Tim Geraghty says was instrumental in the creation of the school forest after the Bailey family -- owners of Bailey Nurseries -- donated the acreage to the city in 1989.

A $10,000 donation from a memorial fund set up in Phillips' honor after he passed away in recent years will help cover a portion of the project cost.

"That's a lot of the impetus," Geraghty said. "The legacy money from Mike helped spur this on."

The city and school district have each committed to chipping in $12,000 toward the cost of constructing the gazebo; the Bailey family has donated an additional $6,000, Anderson said.

Anderson said the city will begin construction on the project this summer while it secures the remaining $10,000 needed through grants and donations.