June 30, 2010

Watford City resident makes it her mission to get Jacobson Park fixed up

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

A park is a wonderful asset to a community, and Watford City is fortunate to have two large community parks and several neighborhood parks for area children to visit.
Kathy Klang, a resident of Watford City, has made it her mission to make one of the city’s neighborhood parks just as wonderful as the Tourist Park and the Children’s Park.
“The Tourist Park and the Children’s Park are great parks,” says Klang. “The problem is that our neighborhood parks are the places that local children are playing, and they haven’t been kept up as well as they could be.”
One park in particular that Klang is referring to is Watford City’s Jacobson Park on the northeast edge of town. Over the past several years, the dynamics of Watford City have changed as former students return to the community to raise their families. This changing dynamic has left a once rarely used park that has become rather run down, filled with neighborhood children.
“My grandchildren live in the neighborhood of this park, along with around 40 other children, and the park is in great need of some updating,” adds Klang. “It’s really sad to see that this once beautiful park is now in shambles. The worst part is that there are almost always children playing in it.”
In an effort to turn Jacobson Park back into the once beautiful park it was, Klang has gone to the Watford City Park Board and put together a committee with hopes of putting in new playground equipment, a new basketball court and a tennis court.
“I went to the Park Board and was told that they don’t have the funds or resources to take on this project,” says Klang. “Because I’m not one to back down, I went to the City Council and have plans to attend the next County Commission Meeting in search of funding for this park.”
Klang has also researched available grants and had two playground specialists visit the park to help with planning and estimates.
“We have a plan which includes new equipment for two to five-year-olds and five to 12-year-olds,” says Klang. “We have also gotten estimates on replacing the basketball court and adding a tennis court to the park.”
Klang spends many evenings at the park with her grandkids, so she has firsthand knowledge of the number of children playing at the park. But that wasn’t enough, so she went a step further.
“After going to the Park Board and hearing that this wasn’t a project they could take on, I went door-to-door in the neighborhood,” states Klang. “I took a flyer to everyone in the neighborhood looking for support and committee volunteers. In addition to great support, I discovered that there are over 40 children living in that neighborhood, and if that doesn’t indicate that this park needs to be fixed up, then I don’t know what would.”
One suggestion Klang received was to start a fundraising campaign similar to the one used to build the Children’s Park.
“The difference between the Jacobson Park and the Children’s Park is that the only people interested in the Jacobson Park are those who live in the neighborhood,” comments Klang. “The Children’s Park is a great place to take your kids. But it isn’t a neighborhood park, and most parents don’t want their kids going there alone, especially with the community growing as it is now.”
Although Klang wants to see this project finished, she hasn’t followed the advice to start a fundraising campaign.
“I just don’t think the people living in the neighborhood should be asked to pay for a city park to be fixed up,” adds Klang. “I understand that the park board doesn’t have the funds and they are very busy, but that isn’t stopping me from contacting the city and county with hopes of turning this park back into something that Watford City can be proud of.”
If you are interested in joining the Jacobson Park Committee or have input on the project, Klang can be reached at 444-3418,