The Trust for Public Land Announces $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Community Park Planning in Wenatchee
The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the City of Wenatchee, has received a grant from The National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town Grant Program to establish a health festival and create community-generated art at Kiwanis Methow Park, a 1.2 acre public park in South Wenatchee. More than 4,200 residents live within a 10-minute walk of the park, which serves more Latino residents and children than any other park in the city.
Cary Simmons, Northwest Program Manager at The Trust for Public Land describes, “Coming into the neighborhood, we’d heard a lot about the community’s scarcity. It’s a vulnerable place; there aren’t enough safe sidewalks or streetlights. But as we got to know South Wenatchee better and shifted the focus to people, we found enormous abundance in culture, community pride, and energy––not scarcity.”
“The City of Wenatchee is thrilled with the NEA’s partnership and support for Methow Park,” said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz, “This park is strategically located in one of our most at risk and culturally diverse neighborhoods. After a recent trip to Mexico by City officials, we understand the importance of highlighting culture and creating investment and ownership in this park, as a catalyst for our community. This investment and our partnership with The Trust for Public Land help fortify the effort.”
During the park design process, local residents and neighborhood organizations have been working with the City to increase pedestrian safety in the neighborhood, as well as access to social services and culturally relevant community programs. To work towards these goals, The Trust for Public Land is working with city leaders, neighborhood groups, and residents through an ongoing, outreach and engagement process – to date connecting with over 900 residents at community festivals, outreach events, and informal chats in the park – to create a vision for a park that meets residents’ vision for healthy living, community gathering, and celebration of culture. Revitalizing Kiwanis Methow Park will create a place for improving overall community health by serving as a community hub designed by local residents, for local residents.
“When people do have those places to gather where everyone belongs, they strengthen their relationships”, said Misael Fajardo-Perez, a local minister. “It’s about the person knowing they have someone else to accompany them on their journey through life. Having a space to share out in the community is so important for that reason.”
“This process that The Trust for Public Land is facilitating is closing the gap that exists between South Wenatchee and the rest of Wenatchee,” says Fajardo-Perez.
Manuel Santos, a construction worker and member of South Wenatchee’s newly formed neighborhood association adds, “At the park a connection and communication begins and you find an exchange of cultures. It’s an impact in the community because you get to know your neighbors and get to know them better as a community…it helps you feel safer, get to know your neighbors, and support each other. That’s why these spaces are so important.”
This project builds upon the successful Community Wellness Festival, held in Kiwanis Methow Park in 2016, and includes the design and implementation of “Healthy Wenatchee” events at the park. These events will include health screenings for hypertension, diabetes and food insecurity, and linkage to follow up medical and social services, wellness education, arts activities for local children, and live performances by Wenatchee’s award-winning high school Mariachi band. More information will be available online at www.tpl.org/wenatcheevalley.