By Sterling McGinn

Newberry’s Yooper Youth organization is inviting the community to join them in a clean-up of Knierim Park. They’ll do the work from 1 – 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.

“We want to enhance the park and eventually build a pavilion, but we thought maybe we should cleanup the park and get people familiar with what we want to do,” said Yooper Youth leader Elizabeth Magnuson. “This park is beautiful, but has room to grow.”

Community members can help that day by picking up garbage, clear limbs, and rake leaves.

“We are looking for anyone who wants to bring trimmers, gardening tools and leaf blowers,” she said.

If inclement weather occurs on Sunday, the event will be rescheduled.

After the clean-up, Yooper Youth will approach the Village of Newberry for approval on projects to enhance the park.

The organization is also with the Village DPW staff. The group first approached the Newberry Village Council at their March meeting seeking permission to begin enhancing the park. Village president Catherine Freese advised the organization to provide a detailed proposal for village manager Allison Watkins.

Though the village currently offers Atlas Park on the east side of town, and Sherman Park near Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Yooper Youth wants to create an additional area for youth and adults.

Originally known as Washington Park, the land was given to the Village of Newberry around 1919 by Newberry farmer and realtor M. E. Beurmann. At that time, subdivisions were added to the village charter and the plot was not developed.

During the Great Depression, the site was ordered as a New Deal W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) project and became a tourist park. The main park in the village had been on the present site of Helen Newberry Joy Hospital. The Newberry Study Club did not like the idea of tourists staying in that park, so Washington Park became an area for campers. The plot contained many second growth trees, which provided ideal shade during the summer months.

Stone stairways led to hills in the park, and in another W.P.A. project, a stone fountain built in the park. The fountain is long gone, but the stairs remain, though covered with years of dirt and debris.

“We want to unbury the stone stairs going up the hill,” Magnuson said. “We want to uncover the dirt and remove some of the trees growing through them.”

Knierim Park is also home to Newberry’s ice rink, which was built by the W.P.A. in the winter of 1938-39. The park was once home to a ski jump which was removed long ago. The park is also home to the favorite sledding hills used by generations of local youth.

The park was renamed in 2009 in memory of Curt Knierim, who served on the Newberry Village Council and the Newberry Water and Light Board.

In the future, the organization is hoping to construct a pavilion, install walking paths, and add exercise and playground equipment.