‘Friend-fest’ to support Jackson Park Sept. 6

       It's not meant to be a rockfest, but the Holland Park Community Associa-tion (HPCA) would like to see as many as 200 people in Jackson Park for live music Saturday, Sept. 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.
       The hope is to arouse interest in the needs of the neighborhood park and possibly start a Friends of Jackson Park group, said Cynthia McGrath, an HPCA officer.
       Currently, because of Jackson's shortage of amenities, Holland Park residents often go to parks in other neighborhoods. “That's silly,” McGrath said. “We go all over the place instead of our Jackson Park.”
       Music will be performed by one-man band John Alex-Mason.
       “We'll provide treats, weather-appropriate, and maybe face painting,” McGrath added. “People will be asked to bring their own picnic dinners.”
       At 9.7 acres, Jackson is the 25th biggest of the city's 135 neighborhood parks, based on city website data. It serves a neighborhood of 1,137 single-family homes, and 200 to 250 multifamily homes and duplexes, according to McGrath.
       Located on Holland Park Boulevard next to Jackson School, its current amenities include a baseball diamond, four tennis courts, a large grassy area and a small toddlers' playground. Other playground equipment and benches are at the school, but that's off-limits when school is in session.
       The Friends effort coincides with a City Parks plan to budget $4,500 for Jackson Park in 2009. The money is earmarked for benches, picnic tables and trash cans. While grateful for the help, McGrath said the park still comes up short, when compared with parks of similar size. For example, a bench or picnic table with a concrete pad typically costs the city around $1,000, and a covered pavilion - one of the HPCA wish-list items - would cost as much as $30,000, according to Parks Development Manager Chris Lieber.
       Even the Sept. 6 event presents logistic challenges. With no electrical outlets, the musician's amplifier will have to be plugged into a neighboring townhome. An 8-by- 14-foot motorcycle trailer will serve as the stage. And, the park has no public restrooms (portables are to be rented).
       The HPCA has told City Parks its highest priorities are the following: trash cans (there are six now, three of them at dog-waste stations), picnic tables (one now) and benches (two now); also requested are a community bulletin board at either end of the park (there are none now) and four tennis practice backboards (none now).
       Other desirable amenities include electricity, bathrooms, a drinking fountain and barbecue pits, the HPCA list indicates.
       “We have a nice park,” McGrath summed up. “With a few additional amenities, we could have a very exceptional park.”

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