By SCOTT BECKER
It doesn’t seem like that long ago since the Children’s Park of Hood River started serving the youth of the community.
Yet, this weekend marks the 10-year anniversary of the transformation of the muddy field on the corner of 9th and Eugene into the busy playground and outdoor community center that it is now.
“This is a stop we make at least once a week,” said Angela Lynn, a local mother spending an afternoon at the Children’s Park with her kids Grant, 6, and Brady, 18 months. “It’s a great social hub for the mommys around here.” Lynn sat with her friend, Sherie Zack, who was with her kids, Collete, 6 and Colson, 2.
The park was constructed with funds and materials that were provided solely by donors, and built by volunteers in five days, from April 21-25, 1993. To top that off, local kids designed the park, giving ideas of what they thought would make an ideal park, and making it a true community project.
Kym Zanmiller was volunteer coordinator for the project. “It’s been great for the community. There are always people there,” she said.
Designers for the park went to local elementary schools and got ideas from kids, asking them to design structures for it. “Each community that does this type of project is different. For example, in one community, swings were mainly what the kids wanted. But for us, slides were the big item,” said Zanmiller.
“The great thing about this project was that everybody could be involved. We needed two unskilled workers for every skilled carpenter we had. And you might be paired with the guy down the street who you couldn’t stand, but you would be working together to achieve one goal for the community,” she added.
Local businesses helped out by donating money, equipment and employees to help build the park.
“Thursday was contractors’ day,” Zanmiller said as she broke down the weekly schedule. “That’s when all of the wood work was done. Friday was business day, when businesses gave employees the day off to come help build the park.”
Zanmiller said the group also did a large amount of fundraising. One was a penny drive in which kids made penny banks to put near the cash registers at local businesses. “We raised one million pennies that covered the whole gym floor at the middle school,” Zanmiller said.
She explained that the park needs constant upkeep and that continued community involvement is critical. Weeding is something that always needs to be done this time of year according to Zanmiller.
In the meantime, the Children’s Park will continue to serve Hood River’s kids and their parents. “All they need now is a coffee shop,” suggested Lynn.