Eastmont Community Park is a gem, and it keeps getting better

By James Russell
Empire Press Correspondent

The conceptual design of Eastmont Community Park’s new playground area and equipment. (Provided photo/Eastmont Metropolitan Parks and Recreation-SiteLines)

Eastmont Community Park is a gem that just keeps getting better.

The East Wenatchee park has open spaces, four baseball diamonds, pickleball courts, playground equipment, a soccer field, horseshoe pits, park shelters, walking paths and multiple species of shade trees — red maples, Asian, ginkgos, fir, birch, cedars and cypress among others. Walking underneath the shade trees and finding a path to avoid the sprinklers treats visitors to cool moisture any time of day.

People walking dogs find plenty of new friends for their pets. My dog Haley likes Biscuit, Hurley, Sugar, Friday, Blue, Oley, Buddy and a host of others.

And the park is beginning major improvements so visitors are seeing construction equipment or empty spaces where playground equipment and a race track used to be.

Park workers have removed the old playground equipment and will replace the pea gravel. They removed the dirt race track for motorized mini-cars to make way for a splash pool.

Construction funds come from bonds approved in the last election by Eastmont Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District voters.

Eastmont Parks maintenance workers Jim Barksdale, on the ground, and Aaron Johnson remove the last swing from the old playground. (Empire Press photo/James Russell)

“The passage of the bond by the voters was a very satisfying election,” said Sally Brawley, executive director of the district. “We pay off our bonds and make sure we’re efficient and I think the public appreciates it.”

The board and staff prepared for the bond drive by surveying taxpayers for feedback on what size of expansion they were willing to support, evidence the board stays in touch with their citizens.

The playground will offer activities for kids of various ages with kiosks, tunnels and swings, including handicapped accessible equipment and a lounging area for adults.

“There will be a small footprint for the playground equipment, so we’ll have lots of space to do other things,” said Brawley. The ground cover for the playground will be a pour-in-place rubber material that is expensive but low-maintenance, durable and colorful. Brawley said, “We used the material in a small area at Kenroy Park and we’re pleased with it.”

They’ll get bids on the splash pool and see how quickly they can complete construction in the spring.

“We have to put in the splash pool after the new playground to see where it can be located exactly, because state sanitation regulations require it be within 100 feet of a bathroom for the kids,” Brawley said.

She added that the new splash pool will be installed adjacent to a lounging space on the playground so adults can watch activities in both areas.

The old playground area at Eastmont Community Park has been cleared out in preparation for new recreational equipment to be installed this fall. (Empire Press photo/James Russell)

The splash pool will be located close to where the motorized mini-car dirt race track used to be. It was privately owned and restricted to club members only, which the board didn’t feel was appropriate for a community park supported by taxpayers. The board informed the club they’d need to find another location.

Aaron Johnson, a maintenance worker, is making steady progress on restoring the grass under the track until the splash pool is installed.

Brawley said the two horseshoe pits will also be removed and one relocated to an undetermined location. Johnson told me one couple uses it regularly and they bring chairs and rest in the shade between games.

Johnson is excited about the changes. “This park will be full of so many people next year,” he said.

Shandra Cole, 34, of East Wenatchee and her son, Ben, 12, who were quietly resting in shade trees near a shelter, told me they already come here a lot.

Roots from shade trees are causing cracks in the pathways meandering underneath the towering shade trees. Brawley said, “That’s our next big project. That’ll be expensive.”

They’ll solve it with the help of appreciative taxpayers.

Carol Bowen of East Wenatchee lives near the park and was walking her black and white Maltese on a recent day.

“I tell everybody they take care of this park. The kids from the school take care of this park, too. Pickleball players shovel off the snow in the winter to play on one of their courts.”