Park a popular lunch stop for city’s commuting employees

CheriBentzPA089744.jpg
CheriBentzPA089744.jpg

Cheri Bentz of Tampa catches up on her reading at Hillsboro?s Memorial Park recently. She said she has been a regular at the park for more than a decade.

Where?s a good place to unwind and enjoy a quiet lunch at the same time?

For Cheri Bentz of Tampa, it?s Hillsboro?s Memorial Park at D Street and Ash.

?I have been coming to the park for about 10 years,? she said Wednesday. ?It?s a nice break (from work) where I can relax for a little while.?

The park, she said, has a calming effect.

?I usually read newspapers or magazines and eat lunch.?

Bentz said she also tries to find a parking space in the shade or, when it?s cold outside, she will look for a sunny spot.

?If it?s real cold, I will stay at work,? she said.

Bentz, who works for Countryside Feed in Hillsboro, said it wouldn?t be practical to drive the 20-plus miles home for lunch.

?Even if I have errands to run, I will still come to the park, eat a quick lunch and listen to the radio,? she said.

One of her favorite times of the year is summer and watching children playing.

When Bentz isn?t working, she and her 10-year-old son live and work on the family farm.

?Four generations live together?my grandfather, my parents, my son and myself,? she said.

Another visitor, Kelli Savage of Florence, said she used to frequent the park more often when she worked in Hillsboro and lived in Lincolnville.

Wednesday, though, was a special day for Kelli?s daughter, Laura, 5, who only had a half-day of kindergarten in Marion.

?I asked my daughter if she wanted to go to the park in Marion or Hillsboro?Laura chose Hillsboro,? she said.

?We have so many nice parks in the county that I think it?s important to take advantage when we can,? she said. ?This has been perfect fall weather.?

When Kelli did drive to the park a few years ago, she said she was content whether it was sunny or not.

?It?s quiet and peaceful. I would pack a lunch and either sit in the car or at a picnic table watching moms playing with their children and sometimes I might see a friend.?

Picnicking in the park also brings out a friendly competition.

?It was fun to get here early and find a nice shady spot,? she said. ?It?s all about finding the best shade.?

Doug Fisk, Hillsboro?s recreation director, said he has seen a lot of people sitting in their cars or at picnic tables in the park, during the past couple of years.

?I was surprised at the number of people who eat lunch there,? he said.

The city has noted the continued popularity and draw of its park and is also looking at updating playground equipment.

?We are in the process of putting in new pieces,? Fisk said, ?and we will be taking out some too.?

One of the slides will be replaced with something else and other items are being discussed.

?We are still in the preliminary stages and working on what we can afford,? he said.

?Once we have narrowed down what equipment we can buy, we plan on having third- or fourth-grade students help us make the final choices,? he said.

Involving younger people is good way to help them learn about city government, Fisk said.

Although the city hasn?t worked out all the details, Fisk said the classes will evaluate different options and come up with the best ideas on a $13,000 budget.

Some ideas could include a small abstract climbing wall about 6 feet high and cargo net climbing.

?We also have more traditional ideas like a teeter-totter and slides,? he said. ?Our goal is to have a few new pieces of equipment in place by next summer or fall.?

Fisk said the park and sports complex get a lot of compliments.

Whether someone lives outside of Hillsboro or in town and is looking for a change from the daily hustle and bustle of life, the park might just be the answer.

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