State, locals pitch in to expand McDowell Park

By Trish Yerges, Observer Correspondent November 28, 2012 02:12 pm

Brad Welch donated his time and expertise with a rented  backhoe at  Tom McDowell Park  Tuesday, all part of the  in-kind donations that are creating an expanded playground for the community’s enjoyment. TRISH YERGES photo
Brad Welch donated his time and expertise with a rented backhoe at Tom McDowell Park Tuesday, all part of the in-kind donations that are creating an expanded playground for the community’s enjoyment. TRISH YERGES photo

ELGIN  —  An Elgin park is getting a makeover thanks to state money and local donors.

The expansion of  Tom McDowell Park was completed this week due in part to a $36,912 grant from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department.

“We got a local government grant in September 2011 that was funded through the state lottery,” said Elgin Parks and Recreation District Director Amanda Welch. “Besides the new play structures, we budgeted in for the heavy machinery rental and for the eight yards of concrete used for all the posts.”

Eighty percent of the project costs will be paid with the grant and 20 percent with donated labor.  Since it is a reimbursement grant, Welch said she has to complete and submit paperwork every quarter, and the district will be reimbursed up to $36,912.

Costs beyond that were absorbed by local donors. Among the corporations that donated labor or materials toward the project were W.C. Construction, OTEC, Boise Cascade and ACS Contracting. The work on the project began in late September.

“Chuck Anderson of ACS Contracting did the initial excavation with his backhoe,” said Welch. “My husband Brad is volunteering his labor to finish it with a rented backhoe this week.”

The new play structures were purchased last winter and stored until recently when it was erected on the expanded playground.

Elgin teacher Brent Carroll and his high school students provided the muscle to move the play equipment from storage to the park site.

Coach Brock Eckstein and the Elgin High School football team helped move the posts to the site for installation.  Other donated help was provided by members of the Elgin Rural Fire Protection District, also by Doug Durfee of W.C. Construction and by school teachers from Stella Mayfield.

“We wanted to start earlier but it was too wet last spring,” Welch said.” Also, our volunteers have been sporatic, and we did most of the work on weekends.”

Boise Cascade donated the wood chips for ground covering on the expanded area as well as a second layer of chips for the former play area.  The park’s two play areas will now offer more fun for the kids, including a 3-foot slide, a 5-foot double slide, 2 infant swings, 2 regular swings, 1 tire swing and the main play structure.

“A hill slide will be erected next spring that will connect the two play areas,” said Welch.

A dedication ceremony marking the expansion of the Tom McDowell park has not yet been set. Welch was uncertain if that event will be held this year yet or next spring.