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Salt Lake County Improves Sunnyvale Park for Refugees and Other Neighbors

Andrea Smardon

A neglected Salt Lake County park in a neighborhood with many refugee and immigrant families has been completely overhauled.

This is one of the most dense refugee and immigrant areas in Salt Lake County, in part because resettlement agencies tend to house people in apartments here. Today at Sunnyvale Park, kids are climbing on new ropes while adults sit in the shade, but people who know the neighborhood on the West side of Millcreek say this is a big change. Theresa Drulard is a coordinator for the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center.

“When I first came to this park, there was no running water, the bathrooms were locked, the playground equipment was broken. It was kinda’ sad,” Drulard says.

The Salt Lake County Office of Township Services worked with community partners to put in new restrooms, a water fountain, and playground equipment. Drulard says as soon as the new equipment went in, kids in the neighborhood insisted she come out and play. “Some of the kids actually don’t know how to swing on a swing set, so we were spending a lot of time learning to do that,” she says.

“We’re so happy about how the park looks today. I can’t even tell you,” says Grace Henley, Food Entrepreneurship Program Manager for the local chapter of the International Rescue Committee. Henley says the farmer’s market held here on Saturdays is going to be much improved.

“People living in this neighborhood are living in a place in this county that is difficult to live. They have low access to healthy foods. They have low access to public transportation. At the very least, we can offer them beautiful greenspace to be proud of and programming to accompany it, and we’re really happy for that,” she says. The market will feature activities for families and a wide variety of produce grown by refugees.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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