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Ryan’s Place keeps River Heights’ toddler’s memory alive

February 11th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Tyson Thorpe

RIVER HEIGHTS–Ryan’s Place Park is covered in snow and closed for the winter. But come summer, the park will again be filled with children playing in a space created as a memorial for a young boy.

In the summer of 2006, 2-year-old Ryan Adams drowned during a family trip to Lake Powell. His family wanted to build something that they could remember him by and share with the community.

“I think it was because of the personality of their son,” Jaimee Smith, a neighbor of the Adams, said. “His personality was really giving and he was always concerned about the others that he played with. And he loved to go to the park”

“I think they did a park because they wanted a place where his family could celebrate his life,” Kate Peterson, a neighbor of the Adams, said.

Peterson said the project of building the park was also a way to cope with the loss.

“I think it really helped their family,” she said. “It gave them something to do.”

Smith said, “It was a kind of healing place for people.”

The funds for Ryan’s Place came mostly through the efforts of Ryan’s family, Mayor Bill Baker said. He said the project took around $200,000 to 300,000 to build.

The park was designed by Leathers & Associates with the help of local children, Baker said.

Smith said the children of River Heights helped design the park by telling the architects what they would like in a park.

Individuals from River Heights and Cache Valley donated their time to prepare and build the park. Peterson said she helped with surveying the area where the park was to be built. Smith said she and many other youth from the area helped to clear the land of rocks and to dig the holes for the construction of the park.

Baker said the actual construction of the park moved quickly. Volunteers started working on a Monday morning and worked from dawn until dusk all that week, he said. Baker said around 2,500 volunteers helped out with the construction. The dedication of Ryan’s Place took place the Saturday after construction had started.

“It is a fantastic park,” Baker said. “It was one of the most incredible things I’ve been involved in.”

Peterson said Ryan’s Place helped motivate the city to improve the rest of the park. The baseball diamond, volleyball pit, and restrooms were redone soon after the completion of Ryan’s Place. Peterson said the quality of the park has greatly improved because of Ryan’s Place and is now a nice place for the community to gather.

“It was nice to have everybody come together for the cause,” Smith said. “It was nice to see the support that comes after a huge tragedy.”


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