It was a few weeks ago when I received an invitation to dedication in South Park. As chair of the Parks and Seattle Center Committee, I receive many of these invitations and all are a delight. But this one was a little different. This one was emotional. It wasn’t just a park dedication; it was a tribute, a tribute to Teresa Butz who was murdered just over a year ago in this very neighborhood. I won’t go into details of the crime, frankly, because they are disturbing and still somewhat raw. The spirit of this event was in her honor, and her memory continues to inspire the whole community.
On Friday, July 23rd, dozens of people stood on the newly renovated basketball courts behind the South Park Community Center on 8th Avenue South. It was just months ago when these now-pristine courts were patches of broken, buckling, and practically useless tennis courts. But thanks to the hard work and good hearts of so many, a transformation occurred. A full-length outdoor basketball court was created, the tennis court was restored, and two new half -court basketball hoops were installed. Courts were brought back to life for a celebration of a life.
People meandered about on this Friday evening. A number of jersey-wearing kids waited for the chance to shoot some baskets and participate in the first organized basketball clinic. There were handshakes and hugs and smiles throughout. This was surely a special occasion.
Detective Kim Bogucki from the Seattle Police Department welcomed everyone. It was apparent that this project was personal for her. She created a miracle and in a few short months acquired the permits and raised the funds for the courts. Because of her hard work and persistence, the children of this neighborhood will benefit from this park addition for years. As Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams said, “Growing up, the outdoor basketball court was my living room.” Now the South Park youth will have a place to play and enjoy their innocence for a bit longer.
Detective Bogucki recognized all those who made this park a reality. The Parks Department leaders were recognized for sparking the project. Carmen Martinez received loud and much-deserved applause for her dedication and continued efforts at the South Park Community Center. And Judge Michael Hurtado spoke from the heart about his love for the people who live and work in South Park.
Karen Bryant, co-owner of the Seattle Storm, spoke on behalf of the team. They were a proud contributor to the project (the team’s logo graces the new basketball court) as was the Seattle Police Foundation, the non-profit Fight the Fear organization, and the McNeil family of Plumb, Level and Square. All were inspired to honor the memory of Teresa Butz
It was truly an honor to be at this dedication, for it was the dedication of so many who made this community centerpiece happen. It demonstrates what partnerships can accomplish in a very short period of time. There were tears of joys amongst the tears of sorrow. I applaud everyone who stepped up to make something bright and memorable come out from a very dark moment that many will never forget. Many thanks.