This week, the city of Warren and Warren City Schools dedicated new sand volleyball courts at Perkins Park. The courts sit at the entrance of the park and are available for not only the Raiders volleyball program to use when they need a break from the hard wood, but for the public to utilize at any time over the summer.
It's been quite a long time since I've been down to Perkins Park. When I pulled in to the park on Thursday, with the sun shining down on the fields, I was taken aback by the beauty the park has become.
Growing up, "beautiful" wouldn't have been the word I would have used to describe Perkins Park. Sometimes, depending on the time of day one drove through there, "scary" might have been a better word to use.
Not anymore. The city has done a wonderful job making the park a destination for residents in the summer. Ten years ago, never would I have thought to take a day in the summer, gather a group of friends and spend the day at Perkins Park. Now, I'm wanting a day off to round up a group to go play volleyball, softball and pack lunches to waste the day away.
Remembering the Perkins Park of old made me think back to my younger days. And when I think of my youth in Warren, one memory pops up for me - the Packard Park swimming pool.
The pool, which was located where the Packard Car Museum sits now, is one of my earliest childhood memories. In that pool is where I learned to swim. I still have a scar on my knee from when I was running around on the concrete and tripped and busted my knee open. Yes, I know I wasn't allowed to run and the lifeguard yelled at me, but I wanted a popsicle.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who has memories of the city pool. I remember being sad when I learned it closed, and I had to finish my Red Cross swimming lessons at the pool at Warren Western Reserve High School. Even today when I drive through Packard Park, I still look over, now to where the museum sits, and remember fondly back to the days of wasting many days of my summer swimming and enjoying every minute of it.
During the dedication ceremony of the volleyball courts, it was said numerous times by city and school officials that the dedication was "for the kids and the community." Talking with Warren Mayor Doug Franklin and council woman Cheryl Saffold after the ceremony, the conversation kept coming back to doing more for the kids and more for the community. I can't think of a better way than bringing back a staple of summertime.
I realize that the cost of building, maintaining and staffing a city swimming pool is a big expenditure and a huge task, as well as years to happen. However, it would be one way to not only give the children of the community something to do, but make the kids want to go outside in a safe, healthy, environment.
However, it's up to the adults to make this happen. It's up to the adults to give children the opportunity to go outside, be active and have someplace to go away from the couch and the video games on a summer day.
Warren businessman John Lacey and former WGH volleyball coach Stephanie Shimko had the idea of the sand volleyball courts. Two years later, it was a reality.
It can happen again. But it takes someone to step up and make a dream a reality.