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City has an obligation to honor John Nelson’s wish | Letters | July 9
What was it that Mr. John Nelson had in mind when he bequeathed to the city the original four-plus acres he owned? The answer to that all-important question becomes apparent in two ways.
The first part of the answer requires that we put ourselves in his shoes at the time the land was gifted and try to read his mind. I feel confident that he did not envision a couple of park benches placed in the center of the parcel of land, surrounded by natural vegetation, as the only amenities.
And I am confident that he pictured a park dedicated for the enjoyment of a substantial number of people with multiple amenities such as ball fields, play areas for children, picnic areas, and lawns for just plain relaxing.
I believe this to be a valid conjecture because years ago parks like this were considered an essential part of the social structure. Almost the entire island consisted of natural forested areas that did not afford the opportunities people would have in a traditional park environment.
With the acquisition of Cannery Cove as the new location for the proposed John Nelson park, the city now has an opportunity to honor Mr. Nelson with a park that can provide a portion of what he may have envisioned as a traditional one.
It seems that today there is a trend to think of a park solely as an area set aside to simulate natural areas sutitable for forest creatures with the addition of a few trails for walking.
Parks like that have a place in our modern environment, but we also need parks to provide for children looking for places to run and play games, and for adults to enjoy picnicking with a magnificent view of Eagle Harbor. All of which can be enjoyed at Cannery Cove in its present configuration.
The uplands can satisfy those that feel a park should provide for a more natural setting. It is well forested and can co-exist with the present shore part of the property.
The present plans for the park have no play areas, no picnic areas and a “restored shoreline” that permits no view of the harbor. The shoreline is to be planted with natural vegetation that will obscure a view of the harbor.
This is definitely not what Mr. Nelson had in mind when he gave his generous gift to be utilized as a park in perpetuity.
The second way to re-create what Mr. Nelson had in mind is to listen to his surviving 93-year-old nephew, Stan Lund, who said during a recent conversation that he verified the conjecture presented above. Lund also said that his uncle wanted to be remembered as a benefactor long after his death and he felt that a traditional park would give Mr. Nelson the sense of immortality he was seeking.
All of this leads to only one conclusion: If we are to truly honor Mr. Nelson, and I firmly believe we are morally obligated to do so, we must provide for a family-oriented approach to developing the park. It should be the type of park he envisioned, and would be proud and honored to share his name.
Fred M. McGinnis