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Clinton celebrates new park

Using a drum to accentuate his words, Chippewa tribal member Gray Eagle urged those attending Saturday’s Clinton park dedication to recall the natives who lived here first. - Jeff VanDerford
Using a drum to accentuate his words, Chippewa tribal member Gray Eagle urged those attending Saturday’s Clinton park dedication to recall the natives who lived here first.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

It was a long time coming, but the Clinton Beach park next to the ferry dock is finally reality.

“This is pretty amazing,” said Lynae Slinden, Port of South Whidbey commission president, as she officially dedicated the new park Saturday morning.

“It is a celebration of our community,” Slinden added as she thanked a long list of contributors who helped make a long-held dream come true.

Two primary contributors were Taproot Design architects Matthew Swett and his partner Sarah Birger. Swett encouraged the 130 people attending the event to honor diversity and think beyond the box.

“Don’t treat this place as a simple park, but as a commons area for locals and visitors to enjoy for generations to come,” he said.

The park project features a landscaped half-acre of land north of the Washington State ferry terminal. It was funded by a $576,177 grant awarded to the port by the state last year.

There are three primary structures — a picnic shelter featuring a “living roof,” restrooms and welcoming trellis — all solidly built with timber frame construction. A large sculpture titled “To Life” by Sharon Spencer highlights the space; nearby the new viewing platform is fashioned of recycled materials that reflect the driftwood-strewn beach beyond.

The paving features embedded steel-form fish shapes. There is a wide swatch of grass already in place and native trees eventually will provide shade for weary Clinton visitors. Closer to the water’s edge is a sea otter sculpture by Georgia Gerber. Other artistic touches remain to be discovered by park visitors.

Just 48 hours earlier, the spot was a riot of unfinished construction, with dirt hills, trash and pickup trucks littering the landscape.

“Our contractors, Advanced Construction of Mukilteo, put every man on the job to get this ready,” said port manager Ed Field. “There’s still several weeks of work left, but I have to say it looks good today.”

Using a drum to accentuate his words, Chippewa tribal member Gray Eagle urged everyone to recall those who lived here for hundreds, maybe thousands of years before the white man’s arrival. “Before any of the buildings or any of you were here,” he said.

“It is clear there has been a lot of hard work by many dedicated people to make this happen. Treat all that is here with respect and reverence; that is the message from tribes that are long gone,” he said.

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