Saturday, June 12, 2021
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Group effort: Doolittle Dream Park to get a makeover

by SAM FLETCHER
Staff Writer | June 11, 2021 1:07 AM

Around 30 volunteers will meet at Doolittle Dream Park on Patton Boulevard in Moses Lake June 19 for a work party and playground makeover.

Staffers of the Grant County Housing Authority, which owns the park, as well as volunteers, provide near-weekly maintenance, said Doug Larsen, housing authority maintenance director. Graffiti is a common offense there.

Every few years, however, the work builds up to a bigger job, he said. Now is that time.

With the housing authority, volunteers from the Light of Larson Church, Moses Lake Christian Church and even the Citipoint Church in Mount Vernon — who will be in the area that weekend doing missionary work — will help in the effort, said Art Brown, Light of Larson Church pastor.

A lot needs to be done, Larsen said: paint touch-ups, graffiti removal, fixing boards and posts, replacing plastic pole caps, as well as replacing the Freddy the Frog spring rider toy, which broke last fall.

Gathering supplies has been challenging, he said.

“Because of COVID, there are all kinds of different things out there that are really hard to get ahold of right now, and I was able to finally find someone who had (a Freddy the Frog), and I’m hoping it will be here before the 19th,” he said.

In the past, many local businesses have stepped up and donated supplies, he said. On June 4, Columbia Basin Striping redid all of the lines on the basketball court, which were worn off, for free.

A lot of it is normal playground wear and tear, he said. It’s extensive, perhaps in part, because of the location, but mainly because it’s a popular park.

It’s beyond the area, too, Brown said. People come from Ephrata, Warden and Soap Lake because of how nice the playground is, especially in the summertime.

The park’s inception came in 2006, when Larson Heights Elementary teacher Tara Childs, founder of the Passion for Playgrounds non-profit, brought the idea to the then-housing authority director John Polling. Next came a large fundraising effort.

Polling liked the idea of doing extra things for the community beyond renting houses, Larsen said.

“For us, we’re not really into the park business, even though we do have it and we try to do the best we can,” he said.

The park was named after Gen. James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle, who served as a brigadier general, a major general and lieutenant general in the United States Army Air Force during World War II.

Doolittle received the Medal of Honor for the first air raid on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Brown has been upkeeping Doolittle Dream Park most weeks for seven years, he said, removing graffiti and tending to the nearby community garden.

“This is our community,” he said, and the park is “a vital piece.”

photo

Sam Fletcher/Columbia Basin Herald

Columbia Basin Striping volunteered to put down the new lines of Doolittle Dream Park’s basketball court.

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Sam Fletcher/Columbia Basin Herald

On June 19, volunteers will replace fence caps and take care of anything needing repair at Doolittle Dream Park.