Methow Park

wa_parque_padrinos_10122018_13Teresa Zepeda hiking in Wenatchee.

Neighbors gather around the kiosk, and children dash across the brilliantly green soccer field at Kiwanis Methow Park in South Wenatchee. Vibrant new murals adorn walls around the neighborhood, and colorful fencing in the style of Mexican papel picado lines the park.
 
Kiwanis Methow Park is one of the few public green spaces in South Wenatchee, a majority Latino neighborhood whose priorities have historically gone unaddressed. Until recently, the park’s patchy soccer field, netless basketball hoops, and chain-link fence invited few neighbors to the park. For many residents, Kiwanis Methow Park didn’t feel like a safe place to play.
 
When The Trust for Public Land learned of the need for a high-quality park in South Wenatchee, we went first to neighbors to understand what a high-quality park meant to residents of South Wenatchee. More than 500 residents participated in the visioning process to ensure that the park would reflect the priorities of the community: family gatherings, cultural festivals, and community events.
 
Neighbors agreed, the park needed a kiosko to host gatherings and celebrations. The kiosko echoes the central gathering places traditional to the cities of the first- and second-generation Mexican families who reside in South Wenatchee. The kiosko, or pavilion, quickly became a central feature of the park design and a rallying element for members of the Latino community.
 
In early 2018, neighborhood leaders founded the Parque Padrinos (or godparents of the park). The Parque Padrinos would “adopt” the park, making a commitment to steward this community resource for years to come. By July 2019 the group has grown to more than 140 members. The Parque Padrinos fostered neighborhood investment in the park and ensured everyone had a voice in the project.

wa_wenatchee_08222018_01Teresa Bendito of Wenatchee's Parque Padrinos.Photo Credit: Mike Bonnicksen/The Wenatchee World
 
The Parque Padrinos’ power soon reached beyond the park boundaries. Parque Padrinos members began attending city council meetings to advocate for the park. For many of the Parque Padrinos, these meetings were their first direct participation in local government. Their conversations about the park opened doors to more in-depth discussions about issues facing South Wenatchee’s Latino community — from health, housing, and jobs to discrimination and racism in the community.
 
In the 2018 midterm elections, the Parque Padrinos worked with the Latino Community Fund of Washington to catalyze Latino voter turnout in Wenatchee, knocking on 3,500 doors and making 4,200 phone calls. The results? The community’s Latino voter turnout tripled in the 2018 elections.
 
The park renovation process at Kiwanis Methow Park sparked a movement, and it has no signs of slowing down. The newly renovated park re-opened in January 2020, and the Parque Padrinos will continue to activate and watch over the park for years to come. There will be basketball games, performances by Wenatchee High School’s mariachi band, birthday parties and casual gatherings of neighbors on sunny evenings. The Parque Padrinos will continue to use their voice to advocate for the priorities of the South Wenatchee community.

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.