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Celebration planned at Polly Judd Park

Neighbors Gordon Wright, left, and Pam Deutschman chat under the almost-completed picnic shelter at Polly Judd Park. (Jesse Tinsley)
Neighbors Gordon Wright, left, and Pam Deutschman chat under the almost-completed picnic shelter at Polly Judd Park. (Jesse Tinsley)

It all began when a $500 check showed up in Pam Deutschman’s mailbox. It came from the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane, and it said simply “for Polly Judd Park”; and it left Deutschman puzzled about why she got it. Little did she know that the check was the beginning of a $30,000 fundraiser to pay for a shelter in Polly Judd Park – a shelter that’s now completed and will be celebrated with a potluck and neighborhood meeting tonight.

“I can’t quite believe we pulled it off,” said Deutschman, standing in the almost finished shelter on Monday. “It’s taken about a year.”

Deutschman, who said she’s not a typical neighborhood activist, lives in Polly Judd’s old home on the north rim of the tiny park that used to be called Historic Cannon’s Addition Park, but was renamed Polly Judd Park in 1999.

Polly Judd and her husband, Thomas Judd, lived for nearly 30 years in the large house on South Oak Street. Thomas Judd was an engineer with Washington Water Power Co., and Polly Judd was one of the founders of the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane. The Lilac Festival was started by the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane in 1938, and the Judds’ daughter, Bobbee Judd Eddy, was a Lilac princess in 1942.

Fast-forward more than 60 years and that’s when Deutschman meets Eddy literally in her own backyard.

It turned out the Judd family was having a reunion in the park just below, and Eddy had dropped by to revisit her childhood home. And shortly after the two women connected the $500 check showed up.

Slowly, Deutschman connected the dots, and it wasn’t long before she came up with an idea for a park shelter.

After all, she’s been putting on pancakes in the park on every other Sunday morning – rain, shine or freezing cold – since 2003, so a shelter sure would be handy. On an especially hot summer morning, a woman had fainted at the breakfast because there was nowhere to get out of the sun.

“The price was $30,000, but I’m pretty sure we raised more than that,” said Deutschman.

Deutschman made fliers and rang doorbells. She said 44 neighborhood families gave on average $125 each; some donations were just $1.

The Polly Judd Shelter received another $1,000 donation from the Associated Garden Clubs and $450 from Polly Judd’s family. Spokane Rotary Club 21 gave $1,000, and the Historic Cannon’s Addition Community Development Steering Committee provided $25,000 in community development funds and block grants.

“And I don’t think I’m that good at asking for money,” said Deutschman, shrugging. “Maybe I need to reconsider that.”

She gives all the credit to the neighborhood and to architect Ronald LaBar, who helped the project navigate codes and regulations.

“He was just awesome,” Deutschman said. “Everyone was asking me where the project was, and once Ron got onboard I could just call him and he always had an update for me.”

The shelter is a nice addition to the park on the bluff, which already features a playground and is the starting point for many of the walking trails on the bluff.

“Pam has just done an excellent job with this,” said Judy Gardner, a member of the Cliff-Cannon Neighborhood Council’s executive committee. “She deserves a lot of kudos for making this happen.”

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