Let’s shoot hoops: New court at Kent park

Jason St. Louis, 18, didn't know about the city of Kent dedication ceremony Aug. 26 at West Fenwick Park. But he certainly knew about the new outdoor basketball court.

Jason St. Louis

Jason St. Louis

Jason St. Louis, 18, didn’t know about the city of Kent dedication ceremony Aug. 26 at West Fenwick Park. But he certainly knew about the new outdoor basketball court.

St. Louis, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School, walked to the park from his West Hill home, to play basketball at the new court that afternoon just after a short ceremony by city officials to dedicate the new court, restroom and picnic shelter at the park.

“This is great now,” said St. Louis of the full-length, blacktop basketball court installed on part of a field compared to the one basket that used to stand in the old parking lot. “It’s a great improvement. Triple the people come here now.”

West Fenwick Park is at 3824 Reith Road, just a mile southwest of Kent-Des Moines Road.

Since the improvements, St. Louis has noticed more people at other parts of the park as well.

“It brings more people to the skate park,” St. Louis said.

Work crews added a new cement walkway from the basketball court to the park’s east entrance. Residents can use the crosswalk at 42nd Avenue South that connects the main park to the skate park on the east side of Reith Road.

An arson fire destroyed the rest room at the park in July 2004. That moved West Fenwick up the city’s list of parks to be renovated.

“The neighborhood has been in despair because there has been no rest room,” Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke said during the ceremony.

A new rest room now sits just northeast of the parking lot.

“It creates a wonderful entry plaza to the park that we had not had before,” said Jeff Watling, city parks director, during the ceremony.

City officials wanted to improve parks on the West Hill after several projects to improve East Hill parks.

Numerous day-care facilities bring children to the 37-acre West Fenwick Park to use the play equipment, one of the larger amounts of equipment available at any of the Kent parks.

Rodarte Construction Inc., of Auburn, received the $635,100 contract from the city to make the park improvements. Others involved in the project included building designs by David Clark Architects of Kent and landscape designs by Michael Lamb of Seattle.

King County’s Youth Sports Facility Grant Program contributed $35,000 to the project, Watling said.

Cooke said she has heard for a couple of years about the need for an outdoor basketball court on the West Hill.

“When I did random surveys of youth, the young people on the West Hill had the same No. 1 issue to get an outdoor basketball court that is good,” Cooke said before she cut a ribbon to dedicate the new court. “They wanted a court where they would not turn an ankle and where the hoop was straight not limp.”

With double rims, the two baskets are plenty sturdy. Watling, who played basketball at Kentridge High School and the University of Washington, tested the baskets with a few shots before the dedication ceremony.

Several children from the nearby playground watched the ribbon cutting on the basketball court by Cooke. The mayor then told the children to take pieces of the ribbon with them. The children gladly ran off with the ribbon pieces.

West Fenwick Park also features three handball courts, two tennis courts, a multi-use field, public art and a walking/jogging trail that circles the park. Graffiti on the handball courts continues to be a problem. But city officials hope the new improvements will help give everyone more pride in the park and maybe even cut down on vandalism and graffiti. The handball courts were painted last week and had no graffiti on Tuesday.

“This is your park and your community and we are here to serve,” Cooke said. “I’ve seen increased use of the park from young tots on the playground to older tots on the basketball court.”

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.

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