Alexandria was at its best at Saturday’s City Council public hearing when the Founders Park Community Association presented the city with a check for $10,000 to help with the park’s restoration after hurricane Isabel.
"Founders Park is not a neighborhood park,” said Jim Dorsch, the president of FPCA. “It is a little gem on the waterfront where people from all over the city and from many countries come together.”
But it wasn’t always that way. In 1978, Chuck Hamel and other neighbors formed FPCA to turn a piece of neglected property into a waterfront park in Old Town. Members of FPCA worked closely with city staff to design the park and have continued to work closely together to modify landscaping and make changes that suited a changing population.
“The neighbors have not just given their time, either,” said Sandra Whitmore, the director of the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities. “They have contributed $40,000 to pay for landscaping, an underground sprinkler system, benches and now for the renovations that are needed because of Isabel. This is truly one of the best examples of how the city can work cooperatively with private groups of neighbors to develop something wonderful.”
FOUNDERS PARK was, by far, the most damaged of all of the city’s parks during Isabel. “We lost trees and benches and even trash cans that were in concrete,” Whitmore said. “We agreed to match the $10,000 from FPCA with funds from our operating budget and that should easily cover the cost of renovations.”
Hamel has been involved since the beginning, along with his wife, Kathy. “We love the park and are very grateful to Sandra Whitmore, Kirk Kincannon and all of the members of the staff who have worked so hard to make this park a wonderful place to go,” Hamel said.