Clark Park finds some caretakers:
Social group convenes weekly to play after cleaning park
Neighbors Ryan Anderson, Christina Strand, Lindsey Weaver and dog Colby work to clean up the park while the “Parrot Man” cruises by on his bike during a weekly meet for “Clark Park: Active” on Wednesday, July 31. The social group meets on a random day each week, posted to the group’s Facebook page, to do clean up work and afterward play games. The largest group so far was 22 volunteers.
EVERETT — For the last eight weeks, Lindsey Weaver, Ryan Anderson, Christina Strand and George Newhall have spent one day a week cleaning up Clark Park, located in the 2400 block of Lombard Avenue.
Ryan and Christina started a Facebook page in June called “Clark Park: Active” where their goal is to create a more welcoming and active space for the Bayside Neighborhood.
With a trash picker tool in one hand and a bag in the other, Anderson walks the park.
“My wife and I live close by, we want the community to be able to utilize the wonderful green space that Clark Park offers,” Anderson said. “If we can change the public perception of the park, then we can create a positive feedback loop.”
The Facebook page has more than 130 members today. Anderson believes that many people might think of the park as a dangerous place. His hope is to show the neighborhood that by having a positive group of people and activities at the park, then negative feelings and previous connotations can be revised and eradicated. At its peak attendance, the group has 22 participants cleaning the park and then gathering together to play games such as volleyball or cornhole, all while enjoying each other’s company.
“People have started to notice all that we are doing,” Strand said. “Some people have even started to come up to us and ask if they can help us clean.” That is just one of the positive feedback loops that Anderson hopes to achieve.
Anderson’s wife Lindsey mentioned a recent occasion where a woman who frequented the park noticed them cleaning and decided to pitch in.
“This woman was struggling with temporary homelessness, and one day we saw her cleaning up garbage around the park without any gloves on,” Weaver said. “We decided to go and give her some gloves and ask her why she was cleaning.” Once given the gloves, Anderson said she became overwhelmed with joy. She asked the group if the next time they came to clean the park if they would bring a rake, explaining that since she spends so much time at the park, she wanted to keep it clean.
So, that next week when the group arrived, they had a rake. Anderson said the woman smiled and then began raking up the cigarette butts that littered the back wall of the tennis courts. After she was done, she joined the group in yard games and spent time laughing amongst the crowd. On a few occasions, multiple members of the local narcotics anonymous group that meets at one of the nearby churches have come to join the fun by playing volleyball.
While walking with Strand, she mentioned how the park and the Everett Public Library are a few of the only places in Everett where you can enjoy family and friends together for free. “This park has been shrunk in half because of the tennis courts. We need to try and preserve the space that’s left and show families that this area is a great place to bring their kids,” said Strand.
During the interview, a man and his dog showed up at the park and began to play fetch with a frisbee. Bringing a smile to Anderson’s face. “See that? That’s cool. That’s the kind of things we want people to come and enjoy,” said Anderson.
“Every week before we leave the park we ask Siri (on an iPhone) to pick a number between one and seven. Whichever number she chooses is the day of the week we will use to host the next meeting,” Anderson said.
Christina, Ryan, Lindsey and George want to change the narrative of the park one clean up at a time.
If you want to join them in their efforts you can do so by joining their Facebook page “Clark Park: Active” and keep up-to-date with all information pertaining to the cleanup effort.
More Clark Park news:
Clark Park gazebo access plans given further thought
EVERETT — On Tuesday, July 23, the city’s Historical Commission gathered at the Van Valey House on Colby Avenue to discuss the future of the Clark Park gazebo.
City Parks Assistant Director Bob Leonard attended the meeting to represent the voice of Clark Park and Bayside neighborhood residents. Leonard had previously met with the residents and provided possible options for the future of the gazebo. He came back to the Historical Commission to convey the feedback from the residents.
The commission advised Leonard to pass along their feedback to neighborhood groups: One being a different styled fence, pursuing possible modifications and issuing a permit for usage of the gazebo. The permit would offer the use of the structure at anytime, but it would still mean keeping it locked during the day.
For the past 20 years, the gazebo has been mostly fenced off to the public because of homelessness issues and vandalism.
Some of the ideas were to remove the gazebo altogether and rebuild a symbolic replica in another location at the park. Another idea is to alter the existing structure and install accordion-style shutters that you can keep open during the day and then close off at night.
“I would hate to throw in the towel and get rid of it. There is a significance to a gazebo at Clark Park,” Commissioner Neil Anderson said. “The shutter idea is intriguing.”
In order to better understand the shutters idea, Commissioner Dave Ramstad voiced wanting to see sketches of the design before making any decisions.
“Is there a more attractive fence that could be an option?,” asked Commissioner Steve Fox. “Something more aesthetically pleasing?,” added Ramstad.
Leonard articulated the neighborhood’s wishes to remove any type of fence.
“It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of foolproof solutions even with the shutters to keep people out,” said Commission Chair Arnold Morrison. “They will be able to find a way to get in.”
He suggested taking down the fence and to see what happens; if that doesn’t work then parks staff can use it as a way to progressively move through a solution.
Ramstad pondered whether if someone from outside the city were to drive by the park and stop for lunch, would they see the giant fence around the gazebo and feel safe? “If you’re in another city and you see fences around public objects you might think something is wrong here,” said Ramstad. “It’s a negative.”
Leonard plans on taking the information back to the residents before meeting with the commission again.
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