Habitat for Humanity of Marion County is partnering with the City of Pella, the Pella Lions Club, and Boy Scout Troup 373 Pella to rehabilitate Brook Circle Park this summer due to The Wellmark Foundation, which recently awarded an $18,000 grant to HFHMCI for the project.
“We are excited to award this grant to Habitat for Humanity of Marion County to help rehabilitate Brook Circle Park,” said Stephanie Perry, The Wellmark Foundation Manager. “This park will have a lasting impact on the community.”
The park, which is located in the Brook Circle neighborhood in southwest Pella just across Highway 163, has many areas that are not handicap accessible. The four groups want to rehabilitate the park so local children will have a safe and close area to play.
Brook Circle Park is owned by the City of Pella, and in 2012, most of the playground equipment was deemed unsafe and removed. Currently, the only access to the park is by staircase surrounded by a steep, overgrown ditch. There are approximately 75 children living in the neighborhood’s 75 housing units, 11 of which were built by Habitat for Humanity of Marion County. The next closest park is approximately one mile away and would require neighborhood children to cross a busy roadway with an average daily traffic count of 3,060 vehicles, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
“Jordan Downing, project manager for Habitat for Humanity of Marion County, would see the conditions of the park on a regular basis over the last year and a half as he worked with the many volunteer groups to build Habitat homes in the Brook Circle neighborhood,” said HFHMCI Executive Director Lisa Crabbs. “Jordan had the great idea that we should do something about it, and it’s been kind of parked in the back of my mind. Then Lisa Houser, Habitat for Humanity of Iowa executive director, approached me one day about a Wellmark grant saying that it’s for healthy communities. When she brought that up my first thought was the Brook Circle Park, and we’ve been working since then to contact organizations to partner with and obtain funding for the project.”
HFHMCI, the City of Pella, the Pella Lions Club, and Boy Scout Troup 373 Pella want to work together to rehabilitate the park and enhance the quality of life for the residents with three goals in mind: to increase walkability and accessibility, enhance the physical environment to promote physical activity, and promote community engagement as a tool to improve public health. Following are steps the organizations will take to accomplish these goals:
To increase walkability and accessibility:
· The City of Pella’s Parks Department and HFHMCI will work together to grade part of the hill to a safer slope and install a sidewalk to the playground equipment to increase accessibility for handicapped residents.
· Neighborhood walkability will be enhanced by installing sidewalks to connect with nearby dead-end sidewalks. This system will ultimately connect to the nearby bike trail, allowing for more transportation and recreational options for the residents.
To enhance the physical environment to improve the physical activity:
· A retaining wall will be installed on the embankment to curb overgrowth and weeds, and the natural habitat will be revitalized by removing dying ash trees and planting new, healthy trees in their places. The park will also be seeded for more grass.
· The City of Pella will purchase a new playground structure with a slide, which will be installed by the partnering organizations.
To promote community engagement as a tool to improve public health:
· Door-to-door surveys will be conducted beginning mid-June to determine what the residents want to see.
· The partnering organizations will recruit volunteers to come together to work toward the common goal of improving Brook Circle Park.
· Boy Scout Troup 373 Pella and HFHMCI plan to create a week-long learning series geared towards children related to health and safety as preventative measure for childhood health issues, which they will present in the park in August.
The four partnering organizations hope that accomplishing these goals will encourage physical activity and enhance the quality of life for residents of the Brook Circle neighborhood.