Lions make for beautiful clamming, recreational scenery

The years of back breaking work has paid off for a hardy group of volunteers from the South Whidbey Lions Club. Club members, who chose Freeland Park as their project, are going to see the fruits of their labors completed this summer. Roy Benson, coordinator of the project for the Lions Club, said volunteers will complete the planting project and a new picnic shelter by July 1, in time for the July 3 fireworks show.

This week Benson, Bob Davis and Chuck Bringle planted 31 rhododendrons in the final area to be landscaped next to the restrooms. As part of the improvement project, the Lions Club in partnership with the Port District of South Whidbey and Island County Parks Department are constructing a 17-foot by 25-foot covered picnic shelter with two barbecues.

To help fund the shelter, the Lions Club is selling quarry paving tiles with the buyers names inscribed to be used as a pathway in the park.

It was Benson’s original vision that has transformed this rather plain, scruffy looking waterfront park into a landscaped area that has become increasingly more popular with the community. Benson first approached the Port of South Whidbey in 2001 with the idea of landscaping the park.

“The port trusted us and let us go ahead. We’ve gotten great support from the port, the county and the community,” Benson said recently as he took a break from helping move 90 yards of top soil. “The park definitely needed help. But now we see the end of the project.”

Benson said he and fellow volunteers from the Lions Club have probably moved 500 yards of top soil and bark during the project.

Bob Davis, who with Benson and Chuck Bringle have spent hours — rain or shine — on the project said “the park is something visible to the whole community.”

“The Lions Club is not just about collecting eye glasses,” Davis said. It’s the biggest project our club has ever attempted.

In 2002, 11 weeping crabapple trees in spring bloom surrounded by dozens of daylilies and shrub roses now line the perimeter adjacent to Stewart Street were planted in 2002. Azaleas and other evergreens were planted 2001 at the west end of the park.

Maintenance of the park’s gardens will continue to be an ongoing responsibility for the club.

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