Wedgewood Elementary School is an oasis of sorts now that a $400,000 community park opened on its grounds Monday.
The Clear Creek ISD school on the Harris County side of Friendswood at 4000 Friendswood Link Road was a shelter during the days of flooding after Hurricane Harvey in August.
But the school was more than 10-minutes walking distance from a park, making it a “park desert,” organizers said.
Now, the school has a new playground that is also a community park in the evenings and on the weekends.
The $400,000 park was a district and community collaboration with Houston-based Spark Park, an organization that puts community parks on school grounds in neighborhoods that lack play spaces and public parks. The parks often feature public art.
The community is still recovering from Harvey. More than 200 students were forced out of their flooded homes and 12 are still living in hotels, school officials said.
And even though Friendswood is an affluent community, Wedgewood is a Title 1 school, meaning many of it students come from low-income families, PTA President Kelly Denton-Orsag said.
Friendswood officials played a consulting role to ensure the amenities at the new park fit with the overall city parks plan, Mayor Kevin Holland said.
The park has some nostalgic play areas including spaces for tether ball, four square and hopscotch.
“It has swing sets,” Denton-Orsag said. “You don’t see those anymore.”
The park also has an outdoor theater with large boulders as seats. The wall of the brick school facing the park now has a mosaic of tiles that students painted. The park also has picnic benches.
Wedgewood is the second Spark Park in Clear Creek ISD. The first one is McWhirter Elementary School in Webster.
Wedgewood Elementary School raised more than $42,000, with $20,000 of that amount coming from the school’s PTA.
Clear Creek Independent School District contributed more than $200,000 for new playground equipment and Spark contributed $150,000 of park desert funding from Houston Endowment and The Kinder Foundation. Fort Worth-based VLK Architects designed the park, district staff said.
The park will help the students as well as the community after the trauma of the disaster, officials said.
“It’s a sign of normalcy when we need it,” district Superintendent Greg Smith said.