Submitted by Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive.
Last Saturday morning I arrived at the new Stan & Joan Cross Park in Frederickson well before the ribbon cutting was scheduled. That was when I was reminded just how special this place is.
I bumped into Ben Heeb, who I have known for over 20 years but had not recently seen. He was wearing a “Friends of Stan & Joan Cross Park” (“The Friends”) green t-shirt. Sadly, Ben shared that his wife had recently passed away and showed me a bench just outside the walking path near the playground that was named in her honor. Ben told me she wanted her memory to be tied to the park and what it has become for the community.
I have talked about “the Pierce County Way” before – that WHAT we do and HOW we do it make our community special. This new park typifies that spirit.
The HOW started with the vision of Stan and Joan Cross more than a decade ago. I first met Stan when I was on the Puyallup School Board after he had retired as an administrator at Rogers High School. Stan and Joan are long-time residents committed to the community. They knew the Frederickson community needed a park and community center and thought their 64-acre historic farm would be the perfect place. They were right. But it took years to make the dream come true.
The Crosses knew they needed help, so they rallied the community and “The Friends” was born. “The Friends” caught the vision and did everything to build support, often in their green t-shirts. Notably, they held countless spaghetti feeds/auctions to raise money for the park development.
Stan and “The Friends” were also strong advocates for state support of the vision. They visited me when I was a state senator working on the capital budget. They cultivated many supporters in Olympia, but their biggest champion is Senator Steve Conway.
Our County Council also provided key funding and support for this focal point in Frederickson.
Roxanne Miles and our Parks team did an incredible job converting the HOW into a WHAT we can all be proud of. With Benjamin Barrett as the lead, the Parks team harnessed all that vision and energy and converted it into reality.
The historic barn sets the tone for this special place – our team knew it had to remain. So, they skillfully converted it into a new community center with sustainable materials and practices. It reflects a strong connection to the history of the community and an investment in what the community is becoming.
Appropriately, the park also is tied to the local natural environment with a connection to the Naches Trail Preserve.
Finally, it has the best and most whimsical playground in Pierce County! It is our first play area that exceeds the American with Disabilities Act requirements and qualifies as “universally accessible” for all our County’s children.
And we are not done yet! There are future phases envisioned to support the growing Frederickson community.
The construction of the park was actually completed last year, but our Parks team delayed the grand opening until the community could gather and celebrate what they had done together.
Check out the video of this spectacular event!
It was definitely worth the wait!