Fort La Play Porte was supposed to take six days to renovate. The City of La Porte had a contractor lined up and a bunch of community volunteers to renovate the aging Fort La Play Porte at Kesling Park.
Three of the six days, it rained. The weather slowed down progress. The six days passed and the park wasn’t done. The city had to finish the renovations, this time without the contractor. Volunteers were needed to finish the park. Tonight, they finally cut the ribbon.
Children rushed around on the playground, sliding down slides and swinging on swings. A swarm of kids gathered on one end of the park for the new zipline that was put in.
“We love [the new park],” parent Ashley Shannon said. “It gives kids something to do. Gets them out of the house.”
Fort La Play Porte was originally built in 1999, 20 years ago. It started to show its age in recent years, so the city decided that it was time for a renovation.
“I participated in 20 years ago when the first build happened. It was an honor to be a part of it then,” said Mayor Mark Krentz in his speech to the community. “I can’t tell you how much more of an honor it is to be the mayor of our city, to see the city come together and make something so fun and beautiful for our city. This is a great day for the City of La Porte.”
It was originally a community project when it was first built, so the city wanted to continue the park’s legacy and made it a community project this time around too.
“I think this park has always meant a lot to La Porte, especially the playground because of the fact it was a community build,” Volunteer coordinator Lindsey Cooper said. “We’ve renewed that a bit with the refresh of the park. We’ve kept the original character, but gave it some needed updates.”
The Fort La Play Porte is unique— a park for truly for the people, built by the people.
“This place isn’t mine, or yours, or your neighbors. It’s ultimately our park,” Project Coordinator Julie Pitman said.
Tonight the city also dedicated the parkway at Kesling Park to Dean Heise, the former Parks and Recreation director. Heise served in the parks and recreation department for 41 years. He was instrumental in building Kesling Park, including Fort La Play Porte.
“The naming of Dean Heise parkway is something we’ve been thinking about for a number of years now.” said Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber. “How to honor his years of service to the parks department?”
“There’s not much you can’t do out here at Kesling Park” said Heise. “I know most of you know that. I’m so proud of Kesling Park. I’m so proud I was able to start it and finish it.”
After the ribbon cutting, the people were invited to sit in the field and watch the Disney classic, Dumbo on an inflatable screen to end the night.