Many hands do light work. At Cosmopolis, it’s not just a saying, as many people have worked together to transform an old park into something new and modern for all to enjoy.
Linda Springer, chair of the board of the non-profit organization The Friends of Highland Park, described what the park looked like – with old equipment and other worn park elements – as “a neighborhood park long neglected and underutilized,” according to an article provided by Springer The everyday world.
But Springer, his nonprofit, the City of Cosmopolis, and various other groups and individuals have gotten involved in giving the park, which sits between Franklin and Dundee Parkways, “a breath of fresh air.” Soon the park will be accessible to the public.
According to Monday morning’s inspection, the upgraded Highland Park is clean and has new playground equipment. Playground equipment includes swing sets – with an Americans with Disabilities Act equipped chair that looks more like an actual chair, with a harness, rather than the traditional swing seat with leg holes . The playground tokens are clean and they provide cushioning for any child who might fall on them.
The park also has a jungle gym with connected slides for added fun. Outside of the play area, two exercise machines sit to the side. And then there are picnic tables with a roof over the tables, just in time for Grays Harbor’s rainy season. There’s also a dog waste station with bags for when a dog needs to leave.
The Friends of Highland Park and Parks of Cosmopolis first came together in 2019 to form a core group to help maintain the park, according to Springer.
The look of Highland Park in 2019, which, as Springer described, had “outdated, rusty playground equipment, a cracked old basketball court, and climbing gear,” is now a memory.
Where the park had “lots of uneven open space, with many stumps and clumps of grass”, it is now covered in evenly distributed soft green grass. Play areas, such as the basketball and racquetball court – with retractable racquetball net, have what look like freshly painted lines. And the playing surfaces are clean and without cracks.
Doing such a project required a lot of work, from all angles.
“The Friends of Highland Park donated and purchased plants for the landscaping projects,” she said in the article. “One of our members assembled all the picnic tables, another completed the benches which were donated by Caskey Industrial Supplies.”
For that, Springer seemed grateful.
“The band’s dedication and hard work goes beyond anything I’ve seen at Grays Harbor,” she said. “We have had 14 work crews that have taken place from June until now, coordinating up to two dozen or more volunteers to help with landscaping, edging, raking, raking dirt, picking up sticks, roll the soil and spread two chips 53 feet. trucks (full) of chips from Cosmo (Specialty Fibers.)”
Since then, members of the association have been watering the “hydroseeded turf areas” that were provided by the city of Cosmopolis. Doing so much work took a lot of coordination and planning, according to Springer. The programming of the working groups was done via Facebook. The task forces included “citizens, students and children presenting alongside council members,” the minutes said.
“The task forces have even brought in volunteers from outside Cosmopolis to share (the) vision of the Friends of Highland Park and the parks of Cosmopolis,” the article states.
It’s not just manual work that has led to the new version of the park. With the help of other committee members, Springer applied for a number of grants to help rejuvenate the park.
The Friends of Highland Park and the City of Cosmopolis raised between $186,000 and $190,000 for the reconstruction of Highland Park through grants, donations and “in-kind” services, the report said.
One of the grants received that helped move the park forward was a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile. Back on Dec. 7, 2021, T-Mobile named the city of Cosmopolis a recipient of the T-Mobile Hometown Grant, according to The everyday world. At the event, Cosmopolis City Administrator Darrin Raines said the check was essential to achieving the goal of creating an all-inclusive park in the “Highlands Edition.”
Springer told the Daily World on Tuesday that Raines and Jeff Nations, director of Cosmopolis Public Works, were “great” to work with.
And now, Springer’s vision comes to life.
The project was also made possible with support from the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, the Druzianich Family Trust — there’s a sign in the park thanking the family — and Sierra Pacific Industries. Other “significant” donors include Cosmos Specialty Fiber, Caskey Industrial Supplies, Northwest Rock and Bayview Redi Mix, and the city itself.
Springer also thanked Nations, superintendent of Cosmopolis’ public works department, for having “boots in the field from day one,” and how Nations shared the same vision.
Although the work on the park is not complete, it is clean, looks new, and is clearly the pride of Spring.
“Many people have worked tirelessly over the past year to make this vision a reality, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished,” Springer said.