Fitness park will start shaping up this week

DeFrees Park will look a lot different in a few weeks as an outdoor fitness park is on the brink of installation at the site.

The equipment has been delivered and will be installed this week and a work bee will be held at the park on Fourth Avenue on Saturday, Oct. 26 on “Make a Difference Day,” a national day of volunteerism that is a joint effort by USA Weekend magazine and Points of Light.

The project has been championed by the Community Mobilization Initiative, a conglomeration of representatives from many local corporations.

The park was originally proposed in March and has been before Warren’s Parks and Recreation Commission and Warren City Council on several occasions in recent months.

Some preliminary work has already been completed. The pathways that are to be laid in asphalt have been painted on the grass and denote the location of the equipment. The asphalt will be covered in the spring by a poured rubber surface similar to what is located at the Crescent Park playground.

Saturday’s work bee is open to all.

“We will take anyone that doesn’t mind getting a little dirty,” said Mary Hagan Double, one of the key proponents of the project, said. “We are going to clean up the fences around DeFrees Park by pulling weeds and clearing downed tree limbs. Then we are going to paint the fence. All volunteers will receive a t-shirt and water bottle from Whirley-DrinkWorks!”

While the group has raised money to cover the cost of the equipment, some funding is still needed to complete the project.

“We will need donations to come in for the poured-in-place rubber ground cover and installation of the walkway,” said Hagan Double. “We planned on pushing the walkway installation to the spring because of temperature requirements during installation. Many grants we are applying for also have rolling timelines that stretched passed our deadline. So we are actively seeking about $30,000.”

The Initiative is holding two fundraisers in the coming weeks to help raise funds. One is a raffle drawing to be held on Oct. 26. The other is a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s on the morning of Nov. 16.

While there is still a way to go, Hagan Double commented on how far the effort has come.

“At the beginning of this project we just had a good idea and a wish to make it happen,” she explained. “We did put in a lot of hard work and time, but it couldn’t have come together so neatly and quickly without the guidance of the Parks and Recreation Commission, the support of the Community Foundation of Warren, or the willingness of the Warren City Council.

“It was amazing to be part of the whole process, I personally have never actively sought to complete a project of this magnitude and expected it to be a huge headache. It was actually fun!”