Andrews Town Park plaque honors woman responsible for resurrection

Rick Wright stands next to the new drinking fountain at the Andrews Park that pays tribute to his late wife, Linda Wright, who was the leading force in the rehabilitation of the once-neglected park. A plaque attached to the fountain notes that Linda Wright “believed that public places are what tie a community together,” prompting her to work for the restoration of green space and playground equipment seen in the background.
Rick Wright stands next to the new drinking fountain at the Andrews Park that pays tribute to his late wife, Linda Wright, who was the leading force in the rehabilitation of the once-neglected park. A plaque attached to the fountain notes that Linda Wright “believed that public places are what tie a community together,” prompting her to work for the restoration of green space and playground equipment seen in the background. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Originally published Sept. 17, 2015.

Green grass and flowers, neatly edged mulch and brightly painted play equipment.

The Andrews Town Park wasn’t always that way.

But now it invites walkers to sit for a while at the picnic tables under the pavilion; parents feel comfortable allowing their kids to ride their bikes to the park.

And if the visitors should happen to stop at the drinking fountain to quench their thirst, they’ll see a tribute to the woman many believe is single-handedly responsible for the resurrection of the park.

“This was one thing she had been after for a number of years,” says Rick Wright.

Andrews Town employees installed the drinking fountain earlier this summer, and a plaque recently placed on the base of the fountain pays tribute to Wright’s late wife, Linda Wright.

The plaque reads:

“In memory of Linda S. Wright.

“Linda S. Wright was a strong advocate for the preservation of this Town Park. She believed that public places are what tie a community together. Through her efforts, as well as the many volunteers she worked with, the Town of Andrews is a better place for everyone.”

The volunteers, Rick Wright says, were an integral part of the park’s rebirth.

“I can’t say enough about all the help,” he says. “She gathered a lot of people over the years to get involved.”

But it was Linda Wright’s willingness to get things rolling, serve as a liaison between the Andrews Town Council and the park committee, and to make sure things got done that made the difference, say Council President Ray Tackett and Councilman John Harshbarger.

“You look at this park right now and you look at it seven years ago, and there’s 200, 300 percent difference,” Tackett says.

Under Linda Wright’s leadership, the Andrews Volunteer Fire Department rebuilt the pavilion. Play equipment was repaired and replaced. The park was cleaned up, and new landscaping was put in place.

She got involved because she saw a need, Rick Wright says.

“We moved here in 1975,” he says. “A lot of us remember years and years ago, kids used to be able to come over here and play.”

Gradually, the park fell into disuse.

“It just got neglected over the years,” Tackett says. Eventually, he adds, no one visited the park unless it was to commit vandalism.

Linda Wright volunteered to head up a park committee, coming up with plans and working with the town council to get the money to carry out those plans.

“Linda was an advocate of getting a lot of this equipment fixed up or new equipment installed,” Rick Wright says. “The flowers, the landscaping, just cleaning the place up.”

“Both Rick and Linda have dedicated a lot of hours over the years to community projects and improving Andrews,” Harshbarger notes.

Linda Wright died last July.

Town employees are keeping up the maintenance at the park, but Tackett says the town council wants someone to step into Linda Wright’s shoes as an advocate for the park.

“We’re trying to fill it so the park doesn’t deteriorate again,” he says. “It gets used quite a bit now.”

Tackett and Rick Wright say they frequently see kids on the swings, people sitting and talking and birthday parties in the pavilion.

“Her main goal was to make this be an ongoing thing,” Rick Wright says. “Not just clean it and leave.”