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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Soldiers Help Create Public Park from Abandoned Carnival

From Multi-National Force - Iraq:

A father pushes his son on a swing as other children play at the grand opening of Dover Park in the Qahira neighborhood in the Adhamiyah District of Baghdad, Oct. 28, 2008. Photo by Sgt. Jerry Saslav, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

BAGHDAD — “As I drove by the Army canal every day, I saw this park, and I said this is something we can do to help the citizens,” said Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Dover Park, as it is known by Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers, sat abandoned for years; located in the Qahira neighborhood of the Adhamiyah District of Baghdad, its carnival rides were unusable and the land was overgrown with weeds.

“It was your typical abandoned park here in Iraq,” said 1st Lt. Rosita Rodriguez, a civil affairs team chief with Company C, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion, attached to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, MND-B.

Thus, the mission to rehabilitate the park became Rodriguez’s mission. Two months later, the refurbished park was completed and handed over to the local neighborhood council, Oct. 28, 2008.

“This is our first park in Qahira. We never had one before,” said Mohamed Madaloom, the Qahira Neighborhood Assistance Council chairman.

The park has a small pond with a generator-run fountain with a flock of geese as well as benches, solar lights, several swings, slides and seesaws. There is also a tiled path lined with flowers and new grass has been planted. A gardener and a security guard, he added, will be hired.

The park is intended to be self-sufficient, and seven small kiosks will be rented to vendors. The rent will provide an income stream to buy fuel for the generator, pay the salaries of the staff and any other expenses.

“Everybody admires the park. I know the families are so excited to get here,” said Madaloom, who, along with fellow local officials and Coalition leaders, gathered for the official hand over. Iraqi officials and Col. Hort raised the Iraqi flag to symbolize the opening of the park as doves were released. Some families and their children couldn’t wait – they were already on the rides.

“I’m so pleased; our kids aren’t able to go many places because of the security situation. I am so pleased that we have such a park in our neighborhood,” said Aum Achmed, who was there with her daughter and a niece. “It’s important for every kid to have a place to go to.”

“It’s good. It used to be awful before. I wouldn’t even look at it before,” said Mostfa, a 3-year-old Iraqi child, before running off to a nearby slide.

(By Sgt. Jerry Saslav, 4th Infantry Division)

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