Nearly 200 friends, family and guests attended the 2nd Annual Spaghetti Feed fundraiser Friday evening at Liberty Junior High in Frederickson to support the efforts of the Friends of Stan and Joan Cross Park in generating the funds necessary to build the park’s infrastructure.
In 2003, Stan and Joan Cross sold their 64-acre Frederickson ranch to Pierce County with the stipulation that it be developed as parkland. In turn, the county has asked for financial assistance to help build the ball fields, playgrounds, rest rooms and parking lots needed to make the park a functioning public facility.
At the time of purchase Pierce County also acquired a second, 55-acre adjoining property, the Naches Trail Preserve, which is being developed as a pristine nature preserve. Already, the county has installed a small parking lot and established a few trails to provide modest access to the forests and streams of this parcel.
In the meantime, the county has asked for a $1.5 million contribution from the Frederickson community for the Cross Park, and in response the Friends of Stan and Joan Cross Park organization was formed. In the spring of 2011 they held their first spaghetti feed, followed by a fundraising banquet at Sportsmen’s Park in the fall.
On Friday May 18, 2012, The Friends met again to raise money. Their immediate goal is to raise some cash that can be used to leverage other kinds of contributions from the industrial and business community of Frederickson, either through matching financial grants or in-kind donations such as land developing, building materials, or construction services.
The joint park facility is located north of 176th St, just west of the new bridge over the railroad tracks, and runs all the way to Military Road, near 150th Avenue. The Cross property was once the home of Stan and Joan Cross, who raised their three sons there, starting in 1973.
The parcel was the former Mayflower Dairy, and many of the old dairy barns and out-buildings still remain. In addition, Stan Cross proudly told the Mountain News that he comes from a Montana cattle ranching family, and on this Frederickson land he ran 50 head of cattle and about 6-8 horses every year.
“Selling the beef was how we put the kids through college,” Stan said.
As for developing the park, Friends official John Marshall says the group has a letter of understanding from the county that if they can raise $1.5 million in total donations by 2015, Pierce County will provide an addition $1.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions towards building the facilities the public will require.
“It’ll be a great place for kids to recreate,” said Marshall, adding that he is spearheading the Friends’ efforts to obtain grants from community-minded organizations, such as the Milgard Foundation and others who are invested in fighting childhood obesity or maintaining old farming structures that have historical values.
Marshall also said that his group has had preliminary conversations with military officials at JBLM who are considering using the Cross Park project as a training site for land-development units, military engineers or design technicians.
“Nothing’s confirmed at this point, though,” said Marshall.
Community support for the park is widespread, but the depth of commitment has yet to be determined.
“Everybody wants the park,”Marshall said with a weary chuckle, “but getting it built is going to take a lot of hard work.”
The Cross Park and Naches Trail Preserve will directly abut the northern edge of the proposed Rosemount housing project, a contentious and controversial mega-unit residential development that has been long-discussed at the Frederickson Land Use Advisory Commission and at the county-level within the Planning and Land Use Department.
As for the festivities at the Spaghetti Feed, Stan Cross was the Master of Ceremonies and generated hundreds of dollars by auctioning about two dozens cakes and other pastries.
In addition, the Bethel Junior High Jazz Band, led by their band leader Tony Curtis, entertained the guests by ably performing jazz standards such as the theme from the Pink Panther.
Mr. Cross also described the activities of the Friends group, and said the county’s current objective is to build the park in stages, with Phase One being the development of a “kiddie land,” which would be replete with slides and a play area, a picnic section, and a few walking trails.
Phase Two would be the installation of ball fields and a parking lot large enough for 400 vehicles.
Stan also said that he estimated that the group raised about $2,000 at the Spaghetti Feed. Further, the group is looking for more community members to join, and their monthly meetings are held on the 3rd Monday at 7 pm in the meeting room of the Central Pierce Fire Station on 22nd Ave and 176th St in Frederickson.
© 2012 Mountain News-WA