History of Gerry Allen Memorial Park
The idea for the Gerry Allen Memorial Park started with New Virginia residents Junior and Betty Allen. In 1999 they decided to have something beneficial to come from the untimely death of their son, Gerry Allen at the age of 36. In his memory, they presented to the City of New Virginia 7.5 acres of land at 809 West Street, to be developed into the Gerry Allen Memorial Park. This land had little human use but offered great promise as a quality park with both recreation and nature viewing in an excellent location. They thought that with a little imagination, ideas from the community, and with volunteer labor, the rolling terrain that is so typical of this part of Iowa, could lend itself to the creation of a lovely park.
From 1999 to 2002, many community volunteers worked to clear the brush, garbage, and old buildings off the site. Fundraisers were held, t-shirts sold and donations from the surrounding area built up funds to make improvements and start a shelter. Eagle Scout projects include new horseshoe pits and the start of the walking path. A track was graded for garden tractor pulls during the city’s Old Settler’s Celebration.
From 2003 to 2004 the board worked on site plans for developing the park. Some of the ideas that were considered were to construct a building, build playgrounds for the different age groups of children, and having walking trails through the park. Another idea was to build a flower garden along with many other developmental plans.
In February 2005 the board decided to have some dirt work on done on the East side of the park. Many loads of dirt were hauled in to build up the site that would be used for a shelter building. In June the main power into the park was installed with the help of the local electric company. A suggestion was made to the City Council to hold a truck pull in Gerry Allen Memorial Park using the garden track. The board had more dirt hauled in to build up the previously garden track for the purpose of hosting the truck pull. After many hours of volunteer labor and volunteer equipment, more grading was done, the track was lengthened, debris was removed, a bigger area was mowed with a brush hog. The board had lights installed around the track for the pull. The track was ready to host the first pull. This truck pull was deemed a huge success and the start of a new tradition for the City of New Virginia. Over the next few months the board continued to research different ways to fund the many developmental plans of the park.
In 2006, the New Virginia Area Development Corporation determined there is an immediate need to construct a shelter with bathrooms and kitchen facilities so the park could be used all year. The New Virginia Are Development Corporation wanted the shelter to be big enough for banquet facilities. It was decided to build a pole barn type shelter with a cement floor. A design was created and bids were taken. In June the dirt work was done for the placement of the building. The forms were set pour the cement floor along with the rough in plumbing was installed. The building was constructed. On July 10th the second truck pull was held as one of the events of the Old Settler’s Celebration. Without sufficient funds the New Virginia Area Development Corporation decided to finish the rest of the building as funds allowed. Over the next few months the board continued to look for funding to complete the building.
In 2007 the Park was awarded its first Warren County Philanthropic Grant. These funds were use to set up the play ground equipment. Through the next two to three years the board spent much time in planning how to finish the inside of our pole barn building. As the board was planning the finishing work they were also continuing to host truck pulls. The truck pulls have grown so much the board decided to hold two pulls a year.
Over the last couple of years we have received 5 more grants from the Warren County Philanthropic Partnership. In the fall of 2010 Jed and Jerry Howe started installing interior walls of the building. Over the last two years we have finished insulating our building, the drywall was installed. In January of 2013 the Brian and Nathan Wickett installed the kitchen cupboards and shortly after the counter tops were installed by Stoneworks. Jerry Howe installed the ceiling grid as well as the floor tiles, and the bathroom dividers. The GAMP building was available for rental in May of 2013.
Since May of 2013 we have had many wedding celebrations, graduation parties, family gatherings and meetings held at the Gerry Allen Memorial Park Building. This has been a wonderful asset to our community over the past 20 years. There has been several changes to our park and we hope to continue to grow this park for the generations to come.
Gerry-Allen Memorial Park is located at 809 West St, New Virginia, IA.
For rental information please contact Erin Thornburgh 641-449-3632 or Jennifer Baughman 641-449-3492.