Veterans Park and those involved with its creation are preparing to celebrate another milestone with the dedication of a new picnic shelter.
The park, located at 802 5th St NE, will host a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. July 31.
Tom Shriver Sr., past commander and judge advocate for American Legion Post 67, is looking forward to the event.
“When we first got Veterans Park established through the (Puyallup) City Council and got the sign put in, then we sat down and figured OK — let’s do a 10-year plan for things we would like to see in the park,” he said.
Near the top of that list was the construction of a picnic shelter.
“That is important because the veterans organizations in Puyallup each have a picnic every year, and we figured why not have a picnic shelter so we can hold our picnics there?” Shriver said.
But the enthusiastic support of local veterans and Veterans Park didn’t stop there. The next thing on the list is a restroom and a playground for kids.
The construction of restrooms is scheduled by the City of Puyallup for this fall, and supporters hope to see the playground soon thereafter.
In an effort to raise funds for the picnic shelter, the group of veterans approached the Puyallup Tribe of Indians with a grant request. They were rewarded with an extremely generous one for $35,000 — earmarked just for the picnic shelter.
The group was delighted. The city constructed the picnic shelter and the veterans group reimbursed them for it. During construction, they looked ahead and built hookups for future water and electricity. Six picnic tables were also purchased.
“The grant is paying for everything,” Shriver said.
Arthur Bell, a veterans service officer with the American Legion Post, said the picnic shelter serves as just another outreach point to the community and to veterans in particular.
“It shows the veterans that we care and we are constantly working for them. We as legionnaires are trying to continue to do things for the community for the betterment of all veterans,” said Bell, who served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years.
Eric Smith, administrative assistant with the Gaming Advisory Commission and charity trust board member for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, said the tribe receives applications for grants for a number of things.
“We help sponsor a wide range of things, and the commission tries to decide what would best impact the community and the tribe and try to spread it out as much as we can,” he said.
The Puyallup Tribe holds veterans and elders in very high esteem, Smith said.
Sarah Harris, Puyallup Parks and Recreation director, said the City is thrilled with the addition of the picnic shelter.
“It has been nothing but a pleasure to work with the veterans groups — they are amazing, energetic and enthused and work so hard to get donations,” she said.
When Harris came on as Parks and Recreation director in 2013, there was a 20-year plan for Veterans Park.
“This will happen a lot earlier because of their efforts. Now we have improved parking, added a flagpole and will add a restroom this year,” she said.