More than 100 years ago, the Alexander family gave a piece of land to the City of Chehalis for a park.
On Friday, the community rallied yet again around that gift to ensure the park will continue to have what it needs to thrive.
Hundreds of community members came out to Lintott-Alexander Park Friday night for the Chehalis Foundation’s Party in the Park. The event was planned as a fundraiser for long-term maintenance for the community park, located in west Chehalis off state Route 6. Local parks, including Lintott-Alexander Park, are a huge focus for the Chehalis Foundation, said Executive Director Jenny Collins, because they fit with the foundation’s mission of raising the quality of life for the community.
“Parks are the heart of our community,” Collins said. “I have seven sons and we have had several graduation parties here. We’ve had celebrations of life here. It’s important to have our parks stay clean and healthy and safe to enjoy.”
The inspiration for the Party in the Park came from the unlikely source of the global COVID-19 pandemic, said Amanda Hubbert, a member of the Chehalis Foundation board and planning committee for the Party in the Park event. The Chehalis Foundation’s annual gala had to be rescheduled three or four times before members decided that because of the threat of COVID-19 and ever-changing regulations, that it could not go forward this year. But Hubbert said they still wanted to host some sort of fundraising opportunity so the foundation’s work could continue in the community.
They decided an outdoor event would be their best bet and the idea to bolster the maintenance account for Lintott-Alexander while enjoying the park space itself came about. They planned many subtle but important details, including seating areas spaced far apart and only a silent auction, to account for possibilities such as the need for masks or capacity restrictions, that could be possible while still allowing people to gather together.
“I think people are so excited to see each other and catch up and chat after the crazy of 2020,” Hubbert said. “We wanted an event where people didn’t have to sit down and be quiet.”
All of the money raised at the Party in the Park was earmarked for long-term maintenance projects for Lintott-Alexander Park. J. Vander Stoep, another board member, explained that in the 1980s, what was then called Alexander Park was closed for about 20 years after the City of Chehalis decided maintaining the space was too costly.
“That was the first Chehalis Foundation project, to fix this park,” Vander Stoep said.
The $300,000 park renovation was kicked off by a $25,000 donation in 2004 from Jim Lintott in honor of his father, Robert Lintott. The Chehalis Foundation decided because of this generous donation, and with the blessing of the Alexander family, to rename the park Lintott-Alexander Park. Since reopening the park, the Chehalis Foundation has an agreement with the City of Chehalis to pay for long-term maintenance for Lintott-Alexander Park while the city covers day-to-day operations such as garbage and water service. The Chehalis Foundation usually keeps an account of about $150,000 on hand to handle projects on their end.
Collins explained that the foundation had recently completed an improvement project on the parking lot and a large oak tree came down in the park and the foundation board decided to have an arborist evaluate the remaining trees. After these projects, about $40,000 remained in the Lintott-Alexander Park account. Vander Stoep said with the Party in the Park fundraiser, they hoped to get that account up to at least $100,000 available since the park’s picnic shelters will soon need to be re-roofed and some board members would like to see the playground renovated, among other likely future needs.
The Chehalis Foundation was also the driving force behind the newly renovated Recreation Park and Penny Playground, which finally opened to the public this year. Collins said they are proud of those projects and it is gratifying to see thousands of parents and kids flock to those parks daily. Lintott-Alexander Park may have an incredibly different feel, but is just as important for the community, Collins noted.
“For some people, going to a park means laying on a blanket and reading a book in peace and quiet and if you want to do that, you probably want to do it here,” Collins said.
Many of the Alexander family were on hand at the Party in the Park, as well as Virginia Lintott, mother of Jim Lintott. Even for those not part of the families related to the park, it was a strong connection to the space that brought them down to support the cause. Jo Kuehner, of Chehalis, said she attended the fundraiser because she loved Lintott-Alexander Park and was always looking for ways to help her community.
“I used to swim out here when I was a young girl,” Kuehner said. “I love this city and I try to be as involved as I can.”
While he loves Lintott-Alexander Park, Buck Hubbert said his motivation to attend the Party in the Park had more to do with supporting the work of the Chehalis Foundation. He said the foundation has a good board of directors that give their time and resources for the betterment of the community, rather than for fame for themselves.
“I’ve supported the Chehalis Foundation since it started,” Buck Hubbert said. “It’s a great organization and well run.”