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Smith Park

Welcome to a new town square

October 12, 2005

As Hood River changes, one change is definitely for the better.

Hood River has a new “library park,” and it is truly a proud sight.

Its name is Georgiana Smith Memorial Park, in honor of the 19th century pioneer who sold ice cream and did many other things to buy books for the community’s nascent library in the 1880s and 1890s. Her husband, Ezra, honored her by donating the family’s hillside land for use as a library. That library came to be in 1913. For years, the park has drawn readers, picnickers and others to its wide, sloping lawn and ample shade.

But it always needed something more.

Enter the park redevelopment project, guided by the Hood River Library Foundation and Hood River County, with support of the City of Hood River.

A good park has become a great park. Hood River has a new town square.

Granted, Jackson Park is renowned as a gathering place for Families in the Park and many other events critical to life of the community.

But downtown needed a central gathering place and it has one. For a peaceful respite, visit the Brick Stratton Park just below Sherman above the Overlook Memorial Park. It is a place of beauty, with its own grand views, and was also designed by Marion McNew, who did the Smith Park redesign.

But it is the Georgiana Smith Park that opens new vistas for the community. More than one participant in Sunday’s rededication ceremony observed that the expanded, upgraded park contains aesthetic pleasures as well as plenty of room for people to gather.

For events such as we are accustomed at Jackson Park, it will still be a tight squeeze, and Stratton Park provides seclusion, but centrally-located Smith Park fills in that middle ground: a view with room for concerts and other events for the public to enjoy.

Congratulations to all involved. They are too many to list, but the bulk of the energy and inspiration are credited to library director June Knudson, the Library Foundation and its president Virginia Hosford, designer Marion McNew, county administrator Dave Meriwether, facilities director Dean Guess and their public works crew, all of whom worked with the library, city officials and each other to forge a creative project that meets the community’s needs.

Best of all, the park remembers people. Bench, patio and tree plaques reveal the family members who chose to memorialize with a place in the expanded park. John and Charlene Stoltz gave the land to the county that is the western, new, section of Smith Park.

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