After four years of discussion, planning, fundraising and construction, the City of Edmonds on Tuesday officially unveiled what Mayor Dave Earling declared as a “new community gathering place”: a beautifully landscaped small park in front of Old Milltown, appropriately named after a local woman who was dedicated to the betterment of Edmonds.
Many local organizations and individuals were invested in creation of Hazel Miller Plaza, so named after the late Edmonds woman whose foundation provided an $88,000 grant award (covering more than half the project costs) toward building the park. The City of Edmonds purchased the site in 2008 with the intent of preserving the central downtown open space for community use, and the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club took the lead in pushing for renovation of what was known then as Old Milltown Garden.
One of the Floretum Club’s legacy members, Rachel Setchfield, designed the original landscape after the Old Milltown Shopping Center was built in the 1970s and maintained the garden for many years. In 2008, the garden club started raising funds to redevelop the garden, and many members made significant individual contributions of over $1,000.
“It’s a great community project,” said Barbara Chase, who along with her husband Vern were recognized Tuesday for their donation.
Also integral to the park’s development were City of Edmonds employees who did much of the work to create the park, from building the forms for the raised flower beds that also double as park seating, to installing irrigation systems, to performing electrical work to planting flowers. By keeping the work in-house, the city was able to save significant money, said Carrie Hite, the City’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Cutural Services, who lauded Parks Maintenance Manager Rich Lindsay for his efforts to oversee Hazel Miller Plaza development.
Long-time friends of Hazel Miller were present at the project unveiling as well, including several who now serve on the board of the Hazel Miller Foundation, which awards grants to local projects in the areas of education and youth services; poverty alleviation and hunger; civic and community services and amenities; the environment, and culture and the arts. They included two Miller acquaintances who participated in the official ribbon-cutting: Lake Ballinger resident Dick Ellis, a friend of Hazel Miller’s for more than 60 years, and Leigh Bennett, who helped Miller set up the foundation and now sits on the board.
“I’m very pleased to see this,” said Ellis, as he gestured toward the park.