Published on Friday, 5 September 2014 23:15 – Written by Kelly Gooch, kgooch@tylerpaper.com
With the sun shining above them, attendees came together Friday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony that highlighted the history and future of The Children’s Park.

Various speakers addressed audience members during the ceremony for Phase II of the proposed park expansion.

Jennifer Carson, Executive Director of The Children’s Park, referenced Psalm 127:3, which states, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”

“That is the premise for everything we do in The Children’s Park, from providing a beautiful place for children to explore and use their wonderful imaginations to coming alongside families who have lost a child to help them remember and celebrate a life cut short,” she said.

She said the original vision for The Children’s Park came about in 2001.

She said a small committee of volunteers from the community came together, along with amazing donors and advisers, to create what is now a great community park.

The park was completed and donated to the city 10 years ago and has been a wonderful place of celebration to include birthday parties, weddings, remembrance ceremonies and a lot more, she said.

Ms. Carson said the public-private partnership between the city and The Children’s Park of Tyler has allowed the park to continue growing and expanding, and as they celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the grand opening of the park, they look toward the future with Phase II.

Plans for Phase II include a meditation and prayer garden, as well as the remodeling of “Alison’s House,” at 110 E. Dobbs St., so that it can be used as an inside venue.

Ms. Carson said there are no longer plans to construct a new building, but plans do still include additional restrooms, as well as a large deck and lawn area to accommodate public and private events.

“We are so thankful for God’s generosity toward us over these past … years. It has been such a great partnership with the city of Tyler, the (Tyler Area) Chamber of Commerce, our amazing donors and advisors, our committed contractors and local businesses, our media friends and our faithful volunteers,” she said.

“The Children’s Park would not be what it is today without the generosity of so many people’s time, resources and talents. Our dream was for it to be a true community park and we have seen that in every sense of the word. We are so thankful for all of the families who have spent time in the park. There are so many stories to tell, some known and many unknown.

“Someone once said, ‘We’ll never know how many lives we’ve touched through this park until we get to Heaven.’ That’s the beauty of this special place.”

Former Mayor Barbara Bass echoed Ms. Carson, saying it has been a fabulous public-private partnership.

“We have made a commitment, and I know the current mayor is here to support that commitment,” she said.

She added, “This park is so highly used, and it is a wonderful park of serenity of peace of remembrance and of healing. It has been truly a gift to our community and we thank the foundation for that. We’re excited for Phase II because it will continue that endeavor. It will provide even more opportunities to help people that are having weddings here or other events. It will continue the healing aspect and it will be used evermore as we go forward.”

Mayor Martin Heines said he continues to be amazed at what a giving community this is.

He said if it wasn’t for those donors and volunteers, then Tyler wouldn’t be what it is.

Major donor C.C. Baker, whose daughter was the namesake for “Alison’s House,” was heavily involved in bringing the park to Tyler.

He said he thinks with the new addition and opening up the beauty of the park, more people will be able to see it from Broadway Avenue.

“We think this will be an added expression of this work, this ministry and for the care of the families that come,” he said.

Ms. Carson estimated the total cost for Phase II, including the purchase of “Alison’s House,” at $750,000. As of Friday, $30,000 was still needed.

She said the plan is to continue raising money as remodeling and construction takes place.

People may donate through a Major Contributor Pledge (gifts of $1,000 or more), a Friend of the Park Pledge (gifts of $100 to $999) or through the Founding Fathers Campaign.

Watch the video

For more information about donating, call 903-939-1597 or visit www.childrensparktyler.org.