Kent unveils new park, new health initiative

About 20 people participated in “The Mayor’s Mile” to help kick off a new community health initiative as part of the Town Square Plaza Park dedication Saturday in downtown Kent.

Chile Alcorta of Bothell

Chile Alcorta of Bothell

About 20 people participated in “The Mayor’s Mile” to help kick off a new community health initiative as part of the Town Square Plaza Park dedication Saturday in downtown Kent.

“If you feel good, you’ll smile at people and people will smile back,” said Marge Williams, a wellness coach with Northwest Neighborhood Nurtrition, to the crowd at the park before the walk through downtown Kent. “It’s about having energy at the end of the day and handling stress. It’s about a sense of well-being.”

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke is spearheading the Kent4Health campaign. Williams is part of a 30-member citizen coalition with a goal of turning Kent into a healthier community.

“With better nutrition and more exercise you’ll have better mental health,” Cooke told the crowd. “You’ll be better to your family, friends and the community.”

A couple of hundred people turned out for the grand opening of the 34,500-square foot urban park at the corner of West Smith Street and Second Avenue, just south of Kent Station.

Linda Hearn, a resident of Alaska visiting her daughter in Kent, came away impressed with the new park designed to connect Kent Station with the historic downtown.

“This is a fabulous way to bring a community together,” Hearn said.

And nothing impressed Hearn more than the Rotary ball unveiled on Saturday. The granite ball floats on water in a granite base in the middle of the park. The sphere is 5 feet in diameter and weighs 13,000 pounds.

“Isn’t that amazing?” Hearns said of the ball. “It’s just kind of sitting there and then you see it moving and the children having fun with it.”

Children rushed up to the Rotary ball to touch it and spin it after a short dedication. Several ground-level spray jets shot up water near the sphere.

“My daughter anticipates every sunny day she’ll have the kids (ages 2 and 4) here playing in the water,” Hearn said.

The Rotary Club of Kent and the Kent Sunrise Rotary Club donated the sphere to the city in celebration of the 100 years of Rotary International. Seattle Solstice artist Stuart Kendell created the water sculpture.

The park features colored-cement plazas, grass knolls and concrete ledges for sitting. A small building houses a restroom and a mechanical room for running the fountains.

“This addition is unique because it’s an urban plaza,” City Parks Director Jeff Watling said to the crowd. “It will be very flexible in its use.”

The park hosts the Kent Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday through Sept. 27. Second Avenue is blocked off between West Harrison and West Smith Street to give the market even more room and keep vehicles away from events at the park.

City officials set up a stage on Saturday in the northwest corner of the park that featured Ian Dobson’s Pan Leggo Duo, a Seattle-based steel drum band. Dobson even wrote a local tune for the grand opening of the park.

“We’re havin’ a good time, we’re havin’ a nice time, jammin’ in Kent, Washington,” Dobson sang.

Dobson even persuaded Cooke and City Council members Deborah Ranniger and Tim Clark to join him on stage to dance and sing the song.

JV Constructors Inc., of Seattle, received the $3.42 million contract last year from the city to build the plaza.

For more information on the Kent4Health campaign, go to or call 253-856-4968.

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