Parks Commissioner Rachel Maynard sees fruition of efforts at dedication

Scott Swanson

Linn County Parks Commission member Rachel Maynard recalls how much her boys, Zachary and William, enjoyed Waterloo Park – before vandals did so much damage to the playground equipment at the campground that the county was forced to close it, back in 2019.

“This was my Zachary’s favorite park,” Maynard said Thursday, May 6, during an opening ceremony for a new playground area that was installed late last year. “They would go play on the old playground structure.

“One kid would yell at the top of the tunnel slide, the other kid would be at the bottom. They’d scream, they’d run, they’d have all this beautiful area to play.”

Linn County Parks Director Brian Carroll told a gathering of about two dozen county employees, officials and some parents that the decision to close the park was “very difficult for us and for the community.”

“We were struggling with how we were going to get it reopened and Rachel Maynard and other members of the community really stepped up and basically came to us and said, ‘How can we help? They were very instrumental in driving this.

“It’s all about them and what they were able to accomplish here.”

Maynard said after the closure she contacted Carroll and asked what she could do.

She and others concerned about the situation held a “hot dog fundraiser” last summer and, eventually, the county contributed transient lodging tax funds to the project.

County Commissioner Sherrie Sprenger, speaking over the chatter of about a dozen children playing on the structure immediately behind her, said she was “excited” to be there, noting it was her first public appearance as a commissioner.

“If you’re annoyed by the extra noise, I’m not,” she said, gesturing at the happy children, one of them William Maynard, 4½, who was using a speaker tube with another child.

Zach Maynard, 6, William’s older brother, was killed last summer when he was struck by a runaway personal watercraft at Lewis Creek Park.

“That’s what the playground is all about,” Sprenger said above the racket. “And they’re better to listen to than me.”

“Lots of people got upset” about the closure, she said, “and what I really love is when somebody steps up and says, ‘This is a problem. What can we do about it?'”

She recognized the contributions of individuals from the public, such as Maynard, who after getting involved was appointed to the Parks Commission, and by county parks staff, who built the structure.

Sprenger noted that the transient lodging tax is charged to visitors who stay in hotels or campgrounds or other lodging facilities in Linn County.

Of the $141,616 final cost of the playground structure, about $120,000 came from lodging tax revenues, Carroll said later.

“This is what you can get with that kind of thing,” Sprenger said.