The Henley High School football team has an annual team-bonding and community service event to get the new football season under way.
On Thursday, the team worked on this year’s project: doing some restoration at an old Mills Addition stomping ground.
“Every year, before the season officially kicks off, we do a big community project,” Alex Stork said.
The Henley Hornets headed to the former Richmond Little League area, a now-overgrown green space that used to house a field where kids could play baseball. The football players, now in their last days of summer vacation, worked to make a walking trail around the park, mend and paint some graffiti-stricken fences, and to refurbish what was once a ball field.
Stork said that some people hope for an off-leash dog park in the area, too.
Ben Siebel, who owns The Grocery Pub on Division Street in the Mills Addition, is part of a group of people who are interested in doing some restoration in what has historically been one of the poorest neighborhoods in Klamath Falls. He said that he and Stork worked together to organize this event.
“I think we’ve done really well,” Siebel said. He cited fixed fences, trash cleanup, and mowed lawns as examples of what the group had done on Thursday morning.
“It’s really about funding,” Stork said. “The city doesn’t have a lot of funds. That’s why this is helpful.”
Nathan Cherpeski, Klamath Falls’ city manager, said the 2019 Parks Master Plan doesn’t include this space at Richmond and Applegate streets, but that it’s helpful for volunteers to do some initial cleanup.
“We’re thankful for them taking the last little bit of their summer to help clean the place up,” Cherpeski said. He thinks that it will bring attention to the question of what the city should do with the site.
Cherpeski said the city has focused more on the nearby Mills-Kiwanis Park, which has been undergoing renovations for the past couple of years. One of those renovations was a new play structure that officially opened last September.
“We don’t have any current plans to turn (the Richmond Little League Area) back into a park,” Cherpeski said. Still, he said, the Henley football players have had a positive impact on the area.
“We’re thankful for the team,” he said.
Nathan Elwood and Dylan Sreniawski are two incoming juniors on the Henley High School football team. They think that the work to restore the park is helpful for both their football team and the community at large.
“It’s team-bonding, it helps our team,” Sreniawski said.
Elwood said parks can help people of all ages come together.
“It unites the community and helps form good friendship bonds from an early age,” he said. “It gives you a good feeling to know that what you’re doing makes a difference.”
Tim Orr, 16, is the Henley Hornets quarterback.
“We found a way to give back and bond as a team,” he said. “And having a place where kids and come and be active and enjoy themselves is always a great thing to have.”