JOSEPH — After years of managing the upkeep of Triangle Park in Joseph, the Rotary Club of Wallowa County is looking for someone else to take on the responsibility. The park is located at the junction of 8th and Main Street.
An Eagle Scout, Jeff Lenehan, created the park at the south end of the city, where the Wallowa Lake Highway makes its first serious curve heading out of town, as part of a Scouting project in 1993.
“He used a lot of rock,” long time Rotary Club member Don Swart said.
From there, the city of Joseph took over maintenance until the early 2000s. When the city proposed plowing most of the park under and replacing the flora with rocks, Don and Evelyn Swart offered to take over the maintenance. They did this alone, with Don Swart even mowing the lawn by himself.
It is due to the dedication of the Swarts and others, the park has a lovely variety of flowers. The Swarts donated delphiniums and poppies to the mix while the Joseph House donate the Iris.
“Whenever we had extra plants or someone else had extra plants to donate we put them in,” Evelyn Swart said.
After two or three years, the maintenance got too heavy for the couple, so they recruited Rotary members and nonmembers alike for the park maintenance. The park received upgrades over the years, including an automatic irrigation system in the summer of 2018.
The Swarts said that eventually, the burden of the park got too heavy for many of the club members as a number of them are advanced in years. Members voted to end the park’s upkeep last year. No one has volunteered to take up the maintenance cause.
“The main thing is pulling up the weeds and deadheading the flowers,” Swart said.
The couple also mentioned that the city of Joseph volunteered to keep the lawn mowed, a promise it has kept.
In the meantime, the park is looking a bit overgrown due to the lack of maintenance. Evelyn Swart said she’s been tempted to make a visit and pull a few weeds, but she knows the possible consequences.
“I was afraid if I went out and started pulling weeds or something, it would be me all over again,” she said. “This is a plea for help. — that somebody besides Rotary Club to step forward and, “Oh, that would be fun, and we’ll do it or I’ll do it.”