Dover Park, as it is known by Multi-National Division â€“ 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.
â€œIt was your typical abandoned park here in Iraq,â€ 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.
Two months later, the refurbished park was completed and handed over to the local neighborhood council Oct. 28.
â€œThis is our first park in Qahira. We never had one before,â€ 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.
â€œEverybody admires the park. I know the families are so excited to get here,â€ said Madaloom, who, along with fellow local officials and Coalition forces leaders, gathered for the official hand over. Iraqi officials and Col. John Hort, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, raised the Iraqi flag to symbolize the opening of the park as doves were released. Some families and their children couldnâ€™t wait â€“ they were already on the rides.
â€œIâ€™m so pleased; our kids arenâ€™t able to go many places because of the security situation. I am so pleased that we have such a park in our neighborhood,â€ said Aum Achmed, who was there with her daughter and a niece. â€œItâ€™s important for every kid to have a place to go to.â€
â€œItâ€™s good. It used to be awful before. I wouldnâ€™t even look at it before,â€ said Mostfa, a 3-year-old Iraqi child, before running off to a nearby slide.