A family with Redmond roots recently gathered in The Hub to say farewell to their namesake park — at least in its current form.
The Baker family brought 40 members from as far away as Arizona to celebrate part of their biennial family reunion at Baker Park. The park, located on SW Obsidian Avenue between SW 16th and 17th streets, was named for Lloyd Baker, a former Redmond School District board president and church and community leader who died in 1969.
“I was excited that the trees have gotten so big,” said Lynda McCormick, 73, one of Lloyd Baker’s two daughters. “We remember when they were planted.”
The family also donated money for the park after Lloyd died. Later on, they pitched in to replace an aging sign at the park.
The family members were impressed with the condition the city has kept the park, which has lush green lawns and a large picnic pavilion. But they were excited by the forthcoming renovations to the park, partly funded by a Portland Trail Blazers online vote the city recently prevailed in.
“They’ve taken good care of it,” said Lloyd’s son, Gary Baker, 79, of Prescott, Arizona. “We’re very proud of the city of Redmond and the care they’ve given to it.”
Gary and Lynda were also joined by sister Marilyn Wineman, of Portland, who was celebrating her 83rd birthday.
The Bakers look forward to a new playground. The current structure, built 42 years ago, features tall metal slides that get hot on summer days. The new one will be inclusive for disabled and younger children.
That’s good news for McCormick, who is an educator like their late mother, Betty Baker Eby.
“I think all different abilities should be able to play on the playground,” said McCormick, who came from Tracy, California, for the event.
They all took part in the back-and-forth online contest to win about $20,000 to go toward a new playground from the Trail Blazers and Moda Health. Redmond edged out Roger Jordan Park in Dallas, Ore., by fewer than 1,000 votes.
The Bakers say they used Facebook to encourage friends and family to vote in 16 states.
“We were greatly honored,” Gary said.
Well, some family members had mixed feelings. Brent Baker, Gary’s son, said his wife is from Dallas.
“She said it would be great if either one won,” Brent said, with a laugh.
The city is looking for more funding for the park, on top of the $20,000 from the Trail Blazers. Annie McVay, Redmond’s parks and administrative division manager, said the city applied for a grant from Oregon State Parks and will know if it was successful in September.
“After that, we’ll finalize plans according to the available budget and move forward with improvements next spring,” McVay said.
The city has said it would also like to put in a new walking path with exercise equipment and a new irrigation system, along with the new play structure, at Baker Park. Officials initially said the cost could exceed the $350,000 cost for recent improvements at Quince Park in northeast Redmond, but that could be scaled back if Redmond doesn’t get the state grant.
The picnic at Baker Park was one of many festivities the Baker family enjoyed during their reunion in Central Oregon. Each section of the family played host to a dinner. They stayed at Eagle Crest and went river rafting, hiked at Smith Rock State Park and visited a distillery in Bend.
Outside of the playground, the Bakers do have one wish for the park — a permanent restroom to replace the port-a-potty now there.
“That would be nice,” Brent said.
— Reporter: 541-548-2186, firstname.lastname@example.org