The Pinewood community, north of Beaumont on Highway 105 midway between Bevil Oaks and Sour Lake, will officially open a new neighborhood park at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Amy Pearson wrote this article about Build Day for the park for the Beaumont Enterprise and also provided it to GuidryNews.com.
PINEWOOD - Brandon Smith spent his Saturday setting posts, assembling sliding boards, building jungle gyms and spreading mulch at a community Build Day to get the new Moore Park up and running.
“I’m here to support our future generations,” said the 16-year-old Hardin-Jefferson High School sophomore.
Standing under the shade of a covered pavilion, Smith points to a nearby spot on the concrete slab that will soon hold picnic tables and be the site for neighborhood birthday parties, cookouts and respite from summer heat.
“Right there,” he said. “That was my bedroom.”
Smith wasn’t talking about sleeping out under the stars. The house he lived in for years once stood at the site of the Moore Park pavilion. What is now the park site once held the parsonage for Pinewood Baptist Church, which is located just across the street. Smith’s father, Robert, is the pastor of the church, which leases the land for the playground to Moore Park for $1 per month.
“They had to tear my house down in October 2004,” Brandon Smith explained. “It had bad mold it in and it made my mom really, really sick.”
Nothing remains of the house now and engineers poured the slab for the pavilion on top of what was once the home’s foundation.
“I’d just as soon it be a park,” Smith said.
On Saturday, some 150 volunteers from Pinewood and neighboring communities turned out in the early hours of the day to assemble playground equipment, set posts, spread mulch, lay bricks and get the park ready for the grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony on Memorial Day.
The whole day had an old-fashioned barn-raising quality to it, with neighbors greeting old friends by name and introducing themselves to new faces. Pinewood’s senior residents came out in droves to show their support, young parents participated in the build and children and youth played nearby.
“I think it went really well,” said Eileen Lewis, whose efforts made the park become a reality. “I’m unbelievably thrilled with the turnout and with the dedication of the volunteers.”
Volunteer workers milled around like ants on an ant hill, going about their business industriously and steadily.
“We have wonderful volunteers,” said Bryan O’Connor, a representative of the Houston-based company Game Time, who manufactured all the equipment for the park.
O’Connor and two other professional installers were on hand to guide installation of dark brown and bright green colored equipment, which will include separate age-appropriate play areas, rock climbing walls, see-saws, jungle gyms and sliding boards. The company provided all the playground equipment for Sour Lake Elementary School and for two schools in Bridge City.
O’Connor was more than pleased with the way the installation progressed and stayed ahead of schedule. About 80 percent of the park was completed Saturday, Lewis estimated.
Pinewood Baptist Church is talking about hosting a community-wide Fourth of July party at the park. They hope the activity and the fellowship the park can provide will increase their membership.
Pinewood Grocery, across the street from the new park, anticipates selling a lot of ice cream and cold drinks this summer.
The park is a draw to families moving into the neighborhood as well.
“This park is a win-win for everyone,” Lewis said. “I don’t see any downside to it.”
Kristy Levin donated her day to help build the playground, searching through carefully numbered and sorted sacks of bolts, nuts and washers to find just the right pieces for a playscape she was helping assemble.
Darrell Westfall worked on the younger children’s area, with visions of his 22-month-old daughter, Hallie, being able to enjoy the park for years to come.
“I came out to build a park for Hallie,” he said. “It’s a great idea, I wanted to get involved as much as I possibly could.”
Westfall and his wife, Hillary, have lived in Pinewood for three years, moving back to the neighborhod Hillary grew up in.
Alexa Roork and Pam Dunivant, both kindergarten teachers at Sour Lake Elementary School, rallied the community’s children in a special play area Saturday morning. Kids could hop around in a bounce house and enjoy sack races, Frisbee and other games under the watchful eye of the two women and their crew, while their parents worked on the build site.
Teenagers from Hardin-Jefferson High School and Henderson Middle School donated their time and earned volunteers hours while serving as child care givers, runners, food service workers and the construction crew.
Tracy Maxwell, who has lived in Pinewood for 12 years, came to the build with her husband, Randall and 14-year-old daughter, Abby, and spent part of the day assembling picnic tables for the pavilion.
“I used to drive into Rogers Park in Beaumont when Abby was little,” she said. “But I wanted to come today to be part of our community. Our community, the neighbors and all these volunteers are what make Pinewood great.”