|July 23, 2016||Comments Closed|
Original Article by Don Bolding of WacoTrib.com
Several hundred people cheered Saturday morning as 7-year-old Parker Pustejovsky cut the net to open the new basketball court at West’s municipal park. The city renamed the space Parker’s Park in honor of Parker’s idea to rebuild the West City Park after it was destroyed in the West Fertilizer Co. explosion that cost him his father, Joey, three years ago.
Officials of the Dallas Mavericks Foundation, the NBA team’s nonprofit advocacy and service foundation, traveled to West to present the court, which also has tennis nets, ahead of a dedication ceremony at noon for Parker’s Park. Parker’s grandfather, Joe Pustejovsky, helped lift him up to cut strings on one of the nets to officially open the hoop.
The elder Pustejovsky recounted how the family was driving past the devastated park after the April 2013 blast when Parker, probably recalling how his dad told him of ideas to improve the facilities, said he wanted to see the park rebuilt.
Asked how he would achieve that, Parker said he would “sell hot dogs.”
Shortly thereafter, an ad hoc group that still calls itself the Parker’s Park Project raised $83,000 by selling hot dogs outside City Hall.
In July of that year, the group organized an auction that raised $83,000 more.
The family has recounted since then that Joey Pustejovsky, a volunteer firefighter and one of 15 first responders who died in the blast, was born in 1983.
Members of the West Volunteer Fire Department were serving hot dogs to attendees at Saturday’s celebrations.
In all, the effort drew $220,000 in donations and the sweat equity of hundreds of volunteers.
The Mavs Foundation took an interest in the park as soon as officials heard of the plan to rebuild, Mavericks Chief Operating Officer Floyd Jahner said.
“This is the 21st court we’ve built in the Dallas region in 20 years, and the largest,” Jahner said. “We told city officials we knew they had a lot of things in the recovery effort that had to take priority, but we would wait. When they were ready, we started work.”
The court has a “Sport Court” floor that can drain water through pores that also provide a soft, springy feel to players’ feet.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Vanek said West City Council will talk at next week’s meeting about patrols and other ways to protect the court and the rest of the park against damage, including vandalism.
Jahner also recognized the sport facility builder Nexcourt, the West, Texas Foundation, the Sprite and Coca-Cola companies, and the Pro Players Foundation, as well as the Parker’s Park Project for assistance in building the court.
Mayor Tommy Muska told the crowd at the dedication that work on the park brought the whole community together.
“Now we have the park where it was before it was destroyed. We’ll add a lot more as time goes on — more sidewalks, trees and other things. But everybody in town has helped with this, and it hasn’t mattered who did what,” Muska said. “We can take a breath now and then move ahead.”
One major project still pending is a memorial in the park to the first responders who lost their lives.
“The council needs to talk to the fire department and others with a stake in it to plan the memorial,” Muska said.
The reconstructed park includes reconstructed picnic tables with shelters, a new pavilion and a playground with equipment overshadowed by a giant firefighter’s helmet.