MacGregor Park History

Origins


The Beals parcels were historic wetlands, part of the Great Dismal Swamp. They were known to be heavily involved in the Abolition Movement and this area at the intersection of US31/SR38 is a documented UR site, and listed in the National Archives.

Eventually, the Dismal Swamp was drained for use as cropland and continues to be farmed today. However, a recent assessment of the property revealed that the over 100 year-old tiles are failing and there is evidence of the reformation of wetlands in several areas, confirming this as a valuable ecological site.

Namesake


Sheila MacGregor Beals was originally from Scotland and met her husband, Lyndon Beals, in England during WWII.  Ms. MacGregor would care for wild animals she would find along the roadside.  She enjoyed nature and was a passionate gardener. The current exterior loop trail follows her daily walks along the perimeter of the property.

In 1999, the family of Shelia MacGregor Beals donated 40 acres which which was used to start the park. Her wishes were that the park be minimally developed and used only for passive nature activities.  The park has more than doubled in size with land that was purchased over time.  

Timeline


1997  Isaac Jones, Trustee, established Township Parks & Recreation Department
1999  Sheila MacGregor Beals donated 40 acres
2004  Township Parks Advisory Committee was established
2004  Received a Federal Land and Water Fund grant 
2004  Construction began on the original 1.8 mile loop that mirrors Sheila’s path where she walked her dogs
2004  Built Trail Head, restrooms, raingarden, 16 parking spaces 
2005  Awarded Urban Forestry Grant used to purchase 600 diverse trees on 9 acres along US  31 
2005  Park programs are offered and staff created The “Flutter”, the quarterly program guide 
2006  The original 1.8 miles of trail was completed
2007  Purchased 19 acres from Lindley Ditch to St Rd 38 
2008  MacGregor Park logo was designed by Sheila Connett, Ms. Beals’ Goddaughter
2009  Park officially opened in May
2010  Adopted 5 year Comprehensive Plan
2010  The State created a park entrance was constructed off of St Rd 38 
2010  Maintenance building was constructed near the trailhead
2010  Road was paved from the bridge to the restrooms and 16 parking spots were added 
2011  Received Urban Forestry Grant used to plant additional 270 trees 
2011  Picnic shelters were built
2012  Awarded the Bicentennial Nature Trust grant, received a donation from the Beals’ Trust to purchase land
2012  Purchased additional 40 acres of interior park land
2012  Eagle Scouts built bulletin board, mile markers, entrance sign near bridge and 12 benches 
2013  Received a federal grant from the Land and Water Fund
2013  Upper Watershed Alliance Grant for pervious pavers in the plaza area
2013  Development and construction complete for the interior of the park
2013  Entrance sign installed
2013  Ribbon Cutting for park interior in October
2016  Adopted 2016-2020 Parks & Open Space Master Plan
2016  11 acre Wetland Mitigation planted 5,000 trees
2017  Board approved to acquire additional park land near MacGregor Park
2018  Board approved bond for purchase of park land
2019  Will celebrate the 10th anniversary of MacGregor Park in May