WASHINGTON — A few years before he passed away in 2017, Robert Gordon noticed some land for sale in Washington.
“Knowing that families in the area were underserved with recreational outdoor space, our father thought a park would be the best utilization of the land,” wrote his children Kevin, Cindy, Greg, Doug and Randy in a joint fundraising letter.
Unfortunately, they wrote, their dad passed away before his vision could become a reality. The Gordon children decided to honor that vision by buying the land, located at 406 Peoria St. in Washington, to create a park in their parents' honor.
They'll be hosting a fundraising day at Kep's Sports Bar and Grill, 313 Muller Road, during business hours Sunday. The restaurant will donate 10% of the day's sales to the park efforts, and raffle prizes will be on offer.
Robert and Loretta Gordon moved to Washington in 1971. All five of their children went to school at St. Patrick Catholic School where Loretta spent much of her time volunteering. Robert served as city treasurer for 28 years and ran his own accounting firm.
“There are direct letters that have been sent out to family members, friends and business acquaintances of the Gordons,” Washington Park District executive director Brian Tibbs said. “We’re actively looking for anyone who would like to be a donor. If any businesses or (private) donors are interested, we’d love to talk.”
The park district is also looking at applying for state grant money for the project, Tibbs said, and a GoFundMe page has also been established. The Gordon family is planning to donate the parcel to the park district, but Tibbs said the land will not be turned over until fundraising efforts are further along.
“We just don’t want to acquire a parcel,” he said. “What happens sometimes is when people donate things, they don’t have the drive to help with the fundraising after that. So, we want to keep them engaged and actively helping with the fundraising.”
The GoFundMe has raised $2,280 as of Wednesday afternoon. The goal is $100,000. Tibbs expects the project to cost over $200,000, but no taxpayer money will be used to fund the park. Construction is likely to begin, though, before all the fundraising wraps up.
Tibbs said he hopes construction will begin within the next two years. The Gordon family hopes the completed park will include an inclusive play area for all children. The family also hopes there will be a ride for children with disabilities, a three-hole putting green, a pavilion, a tree-lined reflection area, and a U.S. flagpole and signs dedicated to Washingtonians who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. As a tribute to their mother, who had an extensive collection of elephants, the Gordons also hope to have elephant-shaped benches throughout the park.
“Our hope is that this park will bring joy to people for years to come,” the Gordons wrote.
For more information on Robert and Loretta (Felker) Gordon Memorial Park, visit www.gofundme.com/GordonMemorialPark or www.washingtonparkdistrict.com.