George Town park gets face-lift

A crew of about 30 people gathered at Watler’s Community Park in George Town on Saturday to give the tired playground a makeover.

Bright yellow and green paint was rolled and brushed onto the central gazebo, wheelbarrows full of sand were dumped and raked around the swingset and slide areas, and a new mural was painted on the concrete wall that separates the park from the intersection of Eastern Avenue and West Bay Road.

Nick Freeland, a past president of the Rotary Club, said this is the first in what is expected to be a series of beautification projects done in collaboration with the government and the private sector.

“The key to this is the partnership,” Mr. Freeland said. “This is a model of what we’re going to use going forward.”

In addition to Rotary, members of the Public Works department, construction company Endeavor Ltd., the Art Nest Creative Studio were all on hand. Materials donations came from A. L. Thompson’s and Cayman Coating, Mr. Freeland said.

Crosby Solomon, of the Public Works Department, said his agency was investing about $1,000 into the renovation.

As well as the work that went on Saturday, Mr. Freeland said, “We’re going to add some benches and a mahogany shade tree.”

Joan Wilson, whose father, Joseph Rodriguez “Roddy” Watler, donated the land for the park in the 1960s, was on hand to see the volunteers at work. She called the renovation “absolutely fantastic.”

Despite its central location, she said, “The park has rarely been used.”

She’s hoping that will change now.

“I certainly will bring my sister and my grandchildren here to show them,” she said.

Art Nest owner Christina Pineda said she thinks many Caymanians are not even aware of the park. Brushing blue paint on the wall mural, she marveled at its low profile.

“I grew up here,” Ms. Pineda said. “I’ve never been inside. It’s one of Cayman’s hidden treasures.”

The project got its start in August, said Stephanie Wight, with the Rotary’s resident service committee. MLA Joey Hew proposed the idea, Ms. Wight said. The logistics came together quickly, she said, and she’s hoping for the same with the impact of the project.

“It’s primarily going to raise awareness that there is a park back here, and kind of create more community awareness,” she said.

While several other public areas are on Rotary’s list, she said – next in line is Gavin Park in West Bay – this seemed like a natural starting point.

“It’s nice that our first park is a center point,” she said. “It feels like this is the right thing to do because it’s right in the center of George Town.”