After months of work, the Williwaw neighborhood near Wasilla will open its first community park later this week.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough donated the 0.37-acre parcel in February. Volunteers got to work clearing the land in March. This week they’re finishing up the playground equipment installation.

Rachel Sayen Lambert is the founder of the community’s nonprofit called F.I.S.H.: Families for the Improvement of Safety and Health. She said neighbors have worked to improve the area that’s been notorious for drugs and crime. The park continues their revitalization efforts.

“It means a sense of community and it means a sense of family and a sense of pride. Showing the outside world I think a little bit that the people in Williwaw can band together and do something positive,” Sayen Lambert said.

The Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation gave F.I.S.H. a $40,000 grant to pay for the playground structures. Sayen Lambert said the Wasilla Sunrise Rotary has also pitched in with the project.

 

“For years I don’t think anybody believed that anybody outside of Williwaw cared about what was going on in Williwaw because of the bad stigma that it had. I think we’re changing that. I really do,” Sayen Lambert said. “I think we’re changing that one volunteer hour a time. I think people are starting to notice that things are happening over here and it’s good stuff.”

Volunteers will construct a pavilion and greenhouse on the property next summer.

A grand opening will likely happen later this month.

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