ILWACO — Last Wednesday was a “super” night to visit the Ilwaco City Park. As parents were setting up blankets and folding chairs in the field, in anticipation of the outdoor screening of “Justice League” — one of the movie nights hosted in the park this summer — children ran around and climbed on the new playground equipment, wearing capes with the insignia’s of various heroes taped to the back.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Sean Stern, who had brought his youngest daughter to the show. “You get to enjoy the outdoors, get the kids out of the house.”
“I saw little tykes to senior citizens enjoying the film,” said Ilwaco Parks and Recreation (IPR) chairwoman Vinessa Karnofski. “Kids need more of that.”
And thanks to the ongoing efforts of the IPR, kids and families will be enjoying the park for many years to come.
More to come
The revitalization of Ilwaco City Park began last year, with the replacement of the old playground equipment, installation of a new bathroom and covered picnic area, as well as some landscaping changes. But the IPR still has a ways to go before they’re done.
If the second phase of the project is fully funded — $487,027, of which the City of Ilwaco needs to match 20 percent ($87,005) — they will also be adding a 500 square foot fenced dog park, a workout station near the playground, new playground elements for younger children, new fencing and dugouts for the baseball field, a batting cage and bull pen, resurfacing the basketball court and a walking path around the perimeter of the park.
So far, they’ve raised about half the amount they need for that phase.
“We hope to complete phase two with little to no tax payer dollars. The community really came through for the park in phase one,” said Karnofski, who returned to IPR after her term as a city councilor ended last year. “The idea was that anyone can come enjoy this park. We really wanted to improve access with the design, so the walking path makes everything wheelchair accessible and the various elements allow for recreational variety.”
Attracting more folks
And all of the work is with a mind on getting more people to visit and use the park. The movies nights, which are co-sponsored by WellSpring, are just one way they’ve been trying to get more people down there.
“We helped host this year’s little league baseball tournament, lots of gatherings for businesses and families, school reunions,” Karnofski said. “The difference now is the park has clean bathrooms in a safer location and brand-new park equipment meeting todays safety standards, and a covered picnic area with power that can accommodate large groups easily.”
Around 60 people turned out for last Wednesday’s movie night — upcoming shows will include “Sherlock Gnomes” on Aug. 15, “A Wrinkle in Time” on Aug. 22 and “The Lego Movie” on Aug. 29 — on par with the inaugural shows last summer.
“WellSpring organizes that event every Wednesday night in August with mostly volunteers and they provide refreshments,” said Karnofski, adding that Timberland Regional Library also has activities for the kids. “The best part of this whole event is that it’s free. The goal is that everyone can come and enjoy a movie under the stars.”
Asking the state
IPR will be presenting their phase two plans to the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office this week in hope of securing more funds for the project. According to Karnofski, the RCO will select and rank proposals in September before sending them onto the state legislature in October.
“Depending on how much money the state gives to the RCO park grants (which is very competitive) we will see if there’s enough to fund ours,” said Karnofski. “Money is dispersed from the first-ranked proposal down until the money runs out.”
The grants will be awarded next June, which is when the IPR plans to continue work on the park.