Just about a year ago I wrote a letter to the editor about the conditions of Owen Park. I said it was a shame to see this potentially beautiful gateway into Vineyard Haven Harbor looking so run down and shabby. Litter, shopping cars, truck tires dumped on the beach, burned out lawn, a bandstand in disrepair , benches with splintered wood and need of paint and a pair of sneakers hanging on telephone wires indicating that drugs could be bought here and a dumpster the size of something you would normally see behind a Walmart sitting next to the dock with horrible odors and flies. I mentioned that we should all work together to make this park into the showplace it deserves to be because what are we saying about our town when they see this entryway looking so run down. I suggested that we start a Friends of Owen Park to help galvanize people into caring about this park. We all have a vested interest, from boaters to dog walkers to children playing on the swings to families who listen to the band concerts, and to the ladies who exercise early every morning. Each of us should be part of the solution to ensure things get done for the better.

So what has happened since my letter last year? Some very positive small steps have been taken. The bandstand has received money to refurbish or replace it but that will take time as a survey of the property must first be done and then architectural plans must be drawn up. This spring the DPW worked on all the benches, replacing splintered seating and putting a fresh coat of paint on all of them. Melinda Loberg and I worked on restoring the garden out in front of the harbor master’s office. The dumpster was moved to the other side of the parking lot — a nice start indeed! Last Saturday, my spouse and I held a fundraiser at our home to raise money and awareness of the need to clean up this park. A special thanks to Wendy Taucher for providing the entertainment with her fabulous opera singers from New York city. Our event raised over $10,000 — a very nice start to a kick off campaign to bring focus to this badly neglected park.

My intention is to oversee how this money will be spent. There are so many projects on my wish list starting with creating a sidewalk going down into the park so that adults and kids don’t have to walk in the road. There should be a crosswalk across Main street for safety, an irrigation system installed so that there will be a welcoming place to sit and not just burned out grass and weeds. I would like to see a buy-a-brick campaign for the garden around the flagpole where there are the remnants of a brick garden that is now mostly overgrown with weeds. That flagpole garden could be surrounded with bricks dedicated to friends, pets and family members who enjoyed this park. I truly believe that if we clean this park up, people will treat it with respect. One only needs to see Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs to realize the value of caring for a park. I hope to report back to you with more positive news as it becomes available. The eye and focus are now on this park — let’s all pitch in and make it a shining gateway into Vineyard Haven.

Paul Doherty
Vineyard Haven