A few years before he passed away in 2017, Robert Gordon noticed a parcel of land for sale in Washington.
“Knowing that families in the area were under served with recreational outdoor space, our father thought a park would be the best utilization of the land,” wrote his children Kevin, Cindy, Greg, Doug and Randy in a joint fundraising letter.
Unfortunately, they wrote, Gordon passed away before his vision could become a reality. The Gordon children decided to honor that vision by buying the parcel, located at 406 Peoria St., Washington. The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help develop it into Robert and Loretta (Felker) Gordon Memorial Park as a tribute to their parents. Their mother, Loretta Gordon, passed away in 2007. The GoFundMe campaign is just one of the fundraising efforts currently underway, according to Brian Tibbs, executive director of the Washington Park District.
“There are direct letters that have been sent out to family members, friends and business acquaintances of the Gordons,” he said. “We’re actively looking for anyone who would like to be a donor. If any businesses or (private) donors are interested, we’d love to talk.”
The park district is also looking at applying for state grant money for the project, Tibbs said. The Gordon family is planning to donate the parcel to the park district, but Tibbs said the land will not be turned over until fundraising efforts are further along.
“We just don’t want to acquire a parcel,” he said. “What happens sometimes is when people donate things, they don’t have the drive to help with the fundraising after that. So, we want to keep them engaged and actively helping with the fundraising.”
The Gordons’ GoFundMe campaign, which started at the end of May, has raised $2,280 as of Wednesday afternoon. The goal is $100,000. Tibbs expects the project to cost over $200,000, but no taxpayer money will be used to fund the park. When construction begins, the first steps in the process will probably consist of infrastructure work and the installation of a parking lot.
“Very likely, we’ll have to do some of the development in phases and have the fundraising be ongoing,” said Tibbs. “Unfortunately, it’s all expensive.”
Tibbs said he hopes construction will begin within the next two years. The Gordon family hopes the completed park will include an inclusive play area for all children. The family also hopes there will be a ride for children with disabilities, a three-hole putting green, a pavilion, a tree-lined reflection area, and a U.S. flagpole and signs dedicated to Washingtonians who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. As a tribute to their mother, who had an extensive collection of elephants, the Gordons also hope to have elephant-shaped benches throughout the park.
“Our hope is that this park will bring joy to people for years to come,” the Gordons wrote.
For more information on Robert and Loretta (Felker) Gordon Memorial Park, visit www.gofundme.com/GordonMemorialPark or www.washingtonparkdistrict.com.