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About 50 volunteers, City Councilmembers and city staff attended a barbeque on Friday, August 23 at Matt Hirvela Bicentennial Park located at 4105 222nd Street SW. The gathering was arranged to celebrate the successful volunteer work projects that have transformed this neighborhood park over the past 10 years.
In 2009, Gary Meissner, Don Bankson and other neighbors adjacent to Matt Hirvela Bicentennial Park approached the Neighborhood Park Improvement Subcommittee (NPIS) with concerns about overgrowth and brush in the park.
As a result, two volunteer park clean up events were scheduled at the park in 2010 and were the most successful turnouts the city has ever had with about 100 volunteers and two goats working to remove overgrown brush.
In spite of the recession and very limited funding, the community worked together to find ways to complete a number of park improvements through volunteerism, in-house work, and grant funding. In 2010, Eagle Scout Candidate Joshua Haynes, who was looking for an Eagle Scout project, was directed to Bicentennial Park where he chose to build a trail through the underbrush.
In 2011, city staff cleared the remainder of the blackberries in the back of the park and removed the aging cabin. In 2012, the city was awarded a Community Development Block Grant for sidewalk and park frontage improvements.
Mountlake Terrace High School volunteers cleaned up the play area in 2012 and in 2014, the city received a grant from Snohomish County for a new gazebo and lighting with help from Snohomish County PUD.
Two more Eagle Scout Projects took place in 2014. Aaron Cox installed a bench and monument and Ryan Clemmons installed a new flagpole. In 2015, Girl Scout Troop 43752 installed a bench, free library and bird houses, and painted the park’s benches. Eagle Scout Candidate Dakota Damiano extended the path.
Brandy LeBlanc, leader of Girl Scout Troop 43752 and the NPIS representative for the park worked with the city to apply for three grants from Snohomish County for $5,000 each over three years to extend and pave the trail in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Inspired by the progress, Girl Scout Troop 43752 used the proceeds from their cookie sales as matching funds for the grants.
Completion of the first sections of the pathway provided momentum as Eagle Scout Candidates Josh Harter and Zachary Bush each did Eagle Scout projects to extend the pathway further in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, Cub Scout Pack 76, under the leadership of Brandy’s husband Greg LeBlanc, was recruited to spread gravel for the path to prepare for paving.
The NPIS honored Matt Hirvela’s land donation to the city with a commemorative plaque. He originally owned the property and asked that it be preserved as a park. The city acquired the property in 1968. The plaque was installed by Girl Scout Troop 43752 who placed it in the monument built by Eagle Scout Aaron Cox in 2014. Eagle Scout Candidate Talal Mustafa completed his Eagle project to extend path. In 2018, Tyler Mudaliar’s Eagle Scout project included installation of three benches along the trail.
The park now provides an accessible walkway for everyone including seniors, disabled patrons, parents with strollers, kids on wheels and dog walkers who enjoy keeping their pets’ paws clean and dry. In 2019, the city received a Trail Spotlight Award from the Washington Recreation and Parks Association (WRPA) for this series of projects that have completely transformed the park making it safer and usable for everyone! For more information visit www.cityofmlt.com/1981.