Local volunteers were in the spotlight at Matt Hirvela Bicentennial Park last week as the City of Mountlake Terrace hosted a barbecue to recognize community members for their work to improve the park over the last decade.
Attending the event were roughly 50 of the hundreds of community volunteers who contributed more than 1,000 hours to enhance the 5-acre park, located at 4105 222nd St. S.W. Parks Services and Property Management Superintendent Ken Courtmanch said the city wanted to thank those who participated in projects ranging from overgrowth removal to creating a walking path to installing a gazebo.
In 2009, residents who live near the park approached the Neighborhood Park Improvement Subcommittee (NPIS) with concerns about park overgrowth and brush. That led to two park clean-up events that drew a total of 125 volunteers and two goats to clear undergrowth, Courtmanch said.
Among those attending the event on Friday was Joshua Haynes, who in 2010 created a trail through the back of the park as part of his Eagle Scout project. Haynes cut through 600 feet of heavily wooded terrain and added 80 yards of surface material by hand to build the trail. Courtmanch said that establishing the trail helped to ease the concerns from residents about people loitering in the park.
After the trail was created, Courtmanch said the interest in park improvement projects took off and local volunteers were keen to help.
“It started to explode from there,” he said. “It goes to show how interested people are in their community.”
From 2011-12, city staff removed additional blackberry bushes in the back of the park as well as a 900-square foot log cabin where Matt Hirvela lived until his death in 1980. Hirvela sold the land to the city in 1968, and it became a park bearing his name.
The city has received five grants for park improvement projects. The first was a Community Development and Block grant that funded sidewalk improvements and frontage near the park’s entrance. In 2014, the city obtained a $10,000 grant from Snohomish County for a new gazebo and lighting, with help from Snohomish County PUD.
Following in Hayne’s footsteps, two more Eagle Scout candidates contributed projects to the park in 2014: Arron Cox installed a bench and wooden monument stand that would later hold a plaque from NPIS honoring Hirvela, and Ryan Clemmons installed a flagpole. Another Eagle Scout candidate, Dakota Damiano, began to extend the park’s existing path in 2015.
Through a partnership with Girl Scout Troop 43572, the city received three Small Capital Projects Partnership (SCPP) grants from Snohomish County for $5,000 each, which were used to help extend and pave the pathway over the course of three years. Inspired by their progress, Troop 43572 used funds from their cookie sales to match the funds for the grants. Additionally, Troop 43572 installed a bench, a “Little Free Library” and birdhouses.
From 2016-17, the path was extended further by Troop 43572 and two more Eagle Scout candidates — Josh Harter and Zachary Bush. In 2017, Cub Scout 76 began working with Troop 43572 to extend and spread gravel along the path.
Work on the path continued into 2018, with the last two Eagle Scout candidates — Talal Mustafa and Tyler Mudaliar — extending the final portions of the path. Mudaliar also installed three benches along the newly-graveled path. The final gravel portion of the path was completed by 46 residents, Troop 43572, Pack 76, the Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission, NPIS, the Mountlake Terrace Community Foundation and city staff.
Under the city’s partnership with Troop 43572, the path was finished last fall after the entire loop around the park was paved with funding from the final SCPP grant.
In June, the Washington Recreation and Parks Association awarded the city the Facilities and Park Spotlight Trails Award for its high-level of community involvement.
“It’s come so far,” Courtmanch said. “It turned out to be something I’d never been a part of before.”
— By Cody Sexton