|Friends of Washington Park Continue Efforts to Restore Booker T. Washington Park|
C. T. Wolfe Construction Donated Time, Machinery For The Project
Clifton Forge, VA (Feb. 23, 2021) - In August of 2020, a group of committed citizens, the â€śFriends of Washington Parkâ€ť Committee, kicked off a planning and fundraising effort to enhance and restore Booker T. Washington Park, located on the main entrance corridor to Clifton Forge.
The kick-off is a Phase2 effort. Repairs and a massive clean-up occurred in 2017 by a Phase1 grass-roots fundraising and Public Works initiative with the Town working closely in conjunction with community residents.
While working on the Phase1 initial clean-up, several needs were identified to make the Park more versatile and relevant to residentsâ€™ wishes. Those needs include a 30â€™ x 40â€™ Picnic Pavilion, additional picnic tables and grills; improved signage, landscaping, and a 40â€™ x 40â€™ concrete slab.
Due to fundraising efforts by Friends of Washington Park and community residents, the picnic pavilion has been realized. C. T. Wolfe Construction crew built the Pavilion in a matter of days despite the onerous weather. Carl T.(Shorty) Wolfe, Jr., C. T. Wolfe Construction owner, donated his time and machinery. His crew was paid with funds that were donated to Friends of Washington Park.
The goals of the Friends of Washington Park are to restore and enhance the Park for community use by repairing the equipment that is currently being used in the Park, and to work collaboratively with the Town of Clifton Forge. A fundraising goal of $32,000 has been set in order to restore existing Park equipment and to build what is required. The Friends of Washington Park committee has raised over $22,000 to date.
The restrooms have been restored by Public Works with new toilet and faucets. The ADA doors have been ordered and will be installed upon arrival.
Work on Booker T. Washington Park began 86 years ago with the desire to create a playground for neighborhood children. The playground and athletic field were officially named Booker T. Washington Park in 1946. A letter from C. A. Smith and E. A. Mansfield recommended that the name of the playground be named â€śBooker T. Washington Parkâ€ť after Booker T. Washington, who was a native of Virginia. Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee Alabama, was an educator, author, orator and adviser to multiple United States presidents. The recommendation was approved by council.
Booker T. Washington Park is special to many. Clifton Forge native, Lillie Hughes remembered, â€śWe used to call the park the Hollowâ€ť before it was named Booker T. Washington Park. It was my childhood playground. I attended Jefferson High School for eleven grade and graduated in 1949. Weâ€™d walk to the park every day for recess. We also had a girlsâ€™ softball team, and May Day celebrations where we would wrap the May Pole. The rock benches on the side of the hill were built by my uncle, Robert Burrell when he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps. He also helped build Green Pastures Park. We received lots of joy from going to the Parkâ€”a bakery was located at the top of the hill and the smells were wonderful. We were a happy group, and loved every day.â€ť
The next project for the Park will be the large slab. Other improvements will include grills, signage and trash cans. The Corridor Curb Appeal Committee is working with Friends of Washington Park to install a book trail that will highlight one of the fourteen books that Booker T. Washington authored. Quotes from â€śUp From Slaveryâ€ť will be featured on the book trail signs. The enhancement and restoration of Washington Park will take the communityâ€™s commitment, but as Booker T. Washington said, â€śThe happiest people are those who do the most for others. The most miserable are those who do the leastâ€ť.
Friends of Washington Park committee members are: Rodney Brown, Evelyn Cooper, Wanda Davis, John Grimes, Patty Davis Ross and Catherine Williams. Completion of Phase2 improvements are scheduled for late spring.
To donate to the â€śFriends of Washington Parkâ€ť project, a Go Fund Me fundraising post can be found on Clifton Forge Main Streetâ€™s Facebook page. Donations can also be sent to Washington Park Project, Town of Clifton Forge, 547 Main Street, Clifton Forge, VA 24422 or visit Town Hall and use the drop box located in front of the building. Donations will be separated from the Townâ€™s General Fund for the purpose of park renovations. For more information on donating, please contact the Clifton Forge Town Managerâ€™s office at 540-863-2500.