Augusta Bates was 10 years old when she led an effort to have a wooden play park built in Turlock for children of all ages to enjoy. Twenty years later, her efforts will be memorialized as the Turlock City Council voted on Tuesday to rename the Turlock Children’s Play Park area of Donnelly Park in her honor.
The younger Bates, daughter of former mayor and current mayoral candidate Brad Bates, took her idea of a play park and presented it to service groups, businesses, churches and the City Council in 1998. Along the way the effort collected more than $80,000 in donations for the park. The New York based Leather and Associates, a firm specializing in helping communities design and erect playgrounds, was hired and the plans were put into motion.
After a mere four and a half days the over 2,400 volunteers who physically put the park together were celebrating the ribbon cutting at a one-of-a-kind play structure.
At the May Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission meeting, Brad Bates requested to have the Children’s Play Park renamed in his daughter’s honor.
“You’re not just building a park. When you bring close to 3,000 people together and do something like this in five days, there really is a sense of community. I think one of the reasons the park has stood the test of time so well is the community really has embraced taking care of it with service club work days and I have to compliment City staff for all the work that they’ve done,” said Brad Bates during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
During the Council meeting, a clip was shown from a documentary featuring the Children’s Play Park from Augusta’s efforts to the building and ribbon cutting.
The Council unanimously approved the name change to the park, along with updating the signage to read “Augusta Bates Children’s Play Park,” to be paid for by the applicant (Brad Bates).
“I attended the Parks meeting that night when they did the proposal and listened to the story. Even though I’ve lived in Turlock all my life, I didn’t remember all this…A 10-year-old girl made it happen. One thing I constantly tell people is ‘don’t tell me one person can’t make a difference’ — and here’s proof that one person can make a difference,” said Council member Gil Esquer.
The video documentary of the creation of the Children’s Play Park done by filmmaker Brian Zarka can be viewed at: www.vimeo.com/208191013