Dan Smith Community Park memorializes economic director

Nicholas Hunter

The Dan Smith Community Park is set to open Thursday after just over a year of construction.

The park is named in honor of former City of Kent Director of Economic Development Dan Smith, who passed away July 2014 due to complications from a brain tumor.

The inspiration for the park came from Smith’s devotion to the community.

“Dan was all about Kent,” said Michelle Hartman, who led the fundraising for the construction for the park. “He was all about leaving a positive impact on the community.”

Fundraising for the creation of this park began in March 2015 and has raised $275,000, exceeding their initial goal by $25,000, said Hartman. She called the success of the fundraiser a reinforcement “ … truly a community effort” to memorialize Smith.

The grand opening for the park is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday. The folk-jazz band Rio Neon will be playing from 5-6:30 p.m. as Kent Mayor Terry Fiala, City Manager Dave Ruller, Kent city council members, and Dan’s friends and family join the community in celebrating the impact he left on the City of Kent.

The park has a number of features that represent the things Smith treasured most in his life such as playground designed around a train car reflects his love for trains.

A performance stage represents his love for music — he played guitar with a band called the Flip-Flops.

The park also features Connect-Four boards and corn-hole boards, crafted by Kent Roosevelt High School construction students. These were a couple of his favorite games to play with his two daughters, said Hartman.

Hartman called the array of features in the park “a wonderful tribute to a great member of the community.”

The grand opening will be an all-weather event, and is open to the public. Local businesses will be providing food and refreshments throughout the evening.

Nicholas Hunter is a general assignment reporter, contact him at [email protected].