Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 22, 2013

New Bullard kid’s park ‘magical’

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

BULLARD —  Looking over the throngs that flocked to Saturday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mayor Pam Frederick told volunteers and supporters they have “created magic” with a new $315,000 Bullard Kids' Park.

“Thank you doesn't say enough, it isn't adequate for what happened out here,” she told the crowd, adding, “whatever part you took in this, I do thank you so much because we created a gift for East Texas families for many generations going forward. We're very proud of this city to be the host of this awesome park. You have created magic, and I appreciate that.”

The park is a fantasy play land dreamed up by local school children who suggested attractions like a tree fort, rocket ship, slides, a castle, monkey bars and a rock wall. Leathers and Associates of Ithaca, New York, an architectural firm that specializes in playground design using recycled material, incorporated those suggestions into plan designs, which has designated areas for younger and older children, as well as for those with special needs.

The project also features picnic pavilions, restrooms, trees and a parking lot, all located on a 1½-acre tract bordered by FM 2493 and Rather Street, just north of the city's downtown, near the local tennis courts.

Last Wednesday, volunteers kicked off a five-day building marathon that culminated in Sunday's ceremonial opening.

David Detten, general manager of WRC Construction who served as the project's leader called Sunday “a big day,” as he described how the community came together after the project was pitched by the Bullard Rotary Club.

“It's the greatest thing to watch a community come together and put forth a lot of effort, time, money to build this park,” he said. “The children imagined it  and the community has built their park. That's the great thing about this park.”

Project committee member Donna Jeffus recalled how only a year ago, the Rotary Club – of which Detten is president – “reached out to the community … to help recruit and prepare to build the park.”

“I made the analogy the other day that we're expecting a baby and we're finally going to see what it looks like,” she said. “We cannot individually thank every person, every business, every organization that has donated time, talent, treasure to this project, but I will say that for such a small community, in comparison to other projects that we've researched, we have one of the most generous communities in Bullard, Tyler, Flint, Gresham, Jacksonville and surrounding areas.”

Detten agreed. “(It's) what community is all about – watching people work on this park, side by side and building something they have a stake in, is one of the greatest things we have here. “

According to Bullard City Manager Larry Morgan, all that's left to reach the original goal is $48,000.

Contributions to support the playground are tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to the East Texas Communities Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 913, Bullard, Texas 75757.