A shared goal among the city of Kent, the Kent Downtown Partnership (KDP) and consulting firm OLI Communications could lead to the development of a space-themed park in downtown Kent.
The park will provide science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related play toys and activities for Kent youth. An agreement between KDP and Seattle-based OLI supports the city’s vision for the park, part of a major renovation planned for Kherson Park, 307 W. Gowe St.
The endeavor kicks off a fundraising goal of $1.25 million for the park’s redevelopment, and will be spearheaded by OLI Global Executive Steve Haro, a former CMO and vice president of global marketing and strategy at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.
“We have worked in coordination with the KDP and with members of the OLI team on a variety of projects and couldn’t be more delighted about the collaboration that has been forged between them for this endeavor,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph in a May 4 OLI press release.
The space-themed park will be centered around a replica life-size astronaut and an interactive replica of a Lunar Roving Vehicle the city created in 2019 to represent the importance of the space ecosystem in Kent’s history. The first and only crewed surface transportation system designed to operate on the Moon was designed, tested and built by Boeing for NASA in Kent.
Commonly known as the Lunar Rover or Moon Buggy, the four-wheeled vehicles were last used during Apollo missions 15, 16 and 17 between 1971-72. Three of the Kent-built Lunar Rovers remain on the Moon today and were designated as King County historic landmarks in July 2019 and Washington State Historic Landmarks in October 2020.
The park will enable students from all walks of life to experience STEM in new and different ways, with the long-term goal of these experiences moving youth toward STEM-focused careers.
“The Kent Downtown Partnership is excited about the park as a platform for inspiring kids toward future endeavors,” said Gaila Haas, KDP executive director. “OLI is the right partner for this project because of the team’s well-rounded and extensive experience in the space, aerospace, education and workforce development, non-profit, and governmental sectors, which we believe will lead to success.”
“We are honored to be working with the KDP to help raise funds for the future of Kent’s youth, as well as being a part of the foundational efforts for workforce development and regional growth for the industry in the Kent Valley,” said OLI CEO Kelly Maloney. “Nurturing the imaginations of children about what’s possible is one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of this initiative.”
Ralph said the park will target getting children involved.
“The space-themed park will be geared toward engaging children in STEM activities through play, thereby introducing STEM concepts in a fun and accessible way,” Ralph said.
The park is part of the city’s larger, comprehensive vision to build on Kent’s history and current trajectory in the space industry, and to expand its ongoing strategic alignment with other Kent Valley cities (e.g., Kent, Renton, Auburn, Tukwila, Pacific), under the umbrella of KentValleyWA, to develop a space ecosystem and regional identity as the place for space.
Those interested in learning more about the park, and to donate, can go to ApolloLunarRover.com or call Michelle Wilmot, campaign director, at 253-275-7542.