Some local citizens have decided not to complain about issues, but instead to work on solutions.
Citizens For Park Improvements is the name of a group of local citizens who had been working in Gunn Park to improve the children’s areas.
Saw the need, took action
“The weekend before I started the group, we were at the park for a church function,” Seth Needham said. ” My youngest wanted to swing, but he couldn’t because the swings were broke. Even if the swings weren’t broke, the surface was muddy, and the whole area was unsafe. The swings that weren’t broke were 28 inches off the ground, which isn’t safe for a toddler. So, I decided to take action.”
” I have 2 sons, and I want the park to be a fun place for them.”
“It is something that had been on my mind for quite some time,” Needham said. ” I love our parks. I love taking my sons to our parks. But our parks need a lot of work. As I parent who frequents the parks, I see a lot of the issues. And I wasn’t seeing those issues being addressed. Things like a teeter-totter that was 40 inches off the ground, which was dangerous for my sons. Or slides that my two-year-old couldn’t go down because they had huge drop-offs at the bottom. Swing sets that were in disrepair. Ground covering that is non-existent. I realized I had two choices; gripe and complain on Facebook, or take action. I chose the second.”
“We have good parks,” he said. “But we have the basis for GREAT parks. And that’s what I want. I want to see Gunn Park be a wonderful safe place for families. I believe our parks department is doing a great job, but it sounds like they are overwhelmed sometimes just trying to keep up with the day-to-day operations. I figured if I could organize a group of people to help with some of the small stuff, the park department might have more time to focus on the larger issues.”
Started November 2019: More Projects In Spring
Needham started the project on November 6.
“I figured a few people might join and help, but I never expected it to take off like this. We have had one meeting, are already drawing up plans for our first six projects. We had our first workday, and got several projects done.”
Upcoming projects planned for this spring include updating bathrooms, repairing playground equipment, new ground cover for playgrounds, “and also some bigger projects which will really add to Gunn Park,” Needham said. “We have people looking into funding options, have set-up a material registry with Big-Sugar Lumber, and have experts looking into things such as drainage. And there is so much more that is going on.”
Currently, there is a project to clear off the Bell Town Park Trail on the north end of town, being organized by Denise Findley Needham.
“Right now there are around 500 people in the group, and it’s growing daily,” he said. “We have a good group of people with fresh ideas, and the will to make it happen. One of my goals from the beginning was to make the group accessible to anyone. I want anyone who wants to help to have the opportunity, regardless of age, income, physical health, or time. I’m trying hard to organize the group where someone who has to work weekends can still contribute if they want to. Or the person who has $10 leftover after pay-day, but still wants to help. There will be a place for them. Or maybe someone who is older or disabled and can’t get out there and do physical labor…. We can use them too.”
” We have never really decided on leadership,” he said. “I guess right now, I’m it. There have been several individuals who have really stepped up… and I couldn’t have done it without them. So if that qualifies as a leader, I would have to say Craig Campbell, Deb McCoy, Josh Jones, Beth Nuss, Lindsay Madison, Susan Bancroft, and Chad Brown so far. As projects come up, I am sure we’ll see more people step up to the plate when they see a need for something they are great at. “
Social media is helping the organization
“I organized it through Facebook to make it easier for people. Let’s face it, people are busy. It’s hard to attend traditional meetings. But by organizing it online, people can contribute on THEIR schedule. Ideas can be exchanged easily. We can set-up events so that people can see what we need, when we are working, and how they can help.”
To view the group’s page:
“If anyone wants to be involved, they just need to join our Facebook group,” Needham said. “In the group, we post ideas and solutions we are working on, workdays, and how people can help.”