LAKESIDE — Jack Barker Memorial Park is located on the northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Hwy 260. This site was home for many years to a few nature education signs and a small walking path along Hwy 260. Several ideas have been discussed over the years including community/nature center, chamber of commerce location, a park and more. There just wasn’t enough space for most of the ideas. In 2015 the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside made the decision to move the location of their Christmas tree to this corner. It seemed to be the perfect spot, almost in the center of town to create a new and much more visible location for the beautiful town Christmas display.
In March of 2017 a beloved friend, father and community member, Jack Barker, unexpectedly passed away. Shortly after graduating from law school in 1975 and passing the Arizona State Bar Exam, Jack began practicing law in Phoenix, where he met his wife of 35 years, Sheryl. In the late 1970s, Jack and Sheryl moved from Phoenix to Pinetop. In Pinetop, he served as the attorney for the local hospital, Navapache Regional Medical Center, now Summit Healthcare, Pinetop-Lakeside Sanitary District and Sunrise Ski Area. Jack also served as the town attorney for the Town of Springerville for 13 years and town attorney for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside for 20 years.
With endless energy, enthusiasm, and a caring spirit, Mr. Barker devoted a tremendous amount of time and his professional skills to serving the community. He was a member of the Blue Ridge School District Board, coached the Sunrise Park Ski Race Team, served as Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, and founded the White Mountain Bereavement Group. He spent countless hours serving and advising local businesses, organizations, and nonprofits. Jack left behind a legacy of service to his community and his country, and will be remembered for his love of life, his joyful and giving spirit and his genuine care and respect for others.
As a result of Jack’s love for his family, friends and the Pinetop-Lakeside community, the Jack Barker Memorial Park came to life. Jack’s family and close friends approached the town council with their proposal to build a park funded by donations in Jack’s honor. A committee of friends, family and town staff was formed to begin the planning, design and construction of the park. The perfect location had to be chosen and the undeveloped parcel on the northeast corner of Johnson Drive and Hwy 260 seemed to be the ideal location. The town council approved the plan to create a park in Jack Barkers’ honor at this location and the committee began their work.
The first step was creating the design, with the help of Kathrine Nunn, Engineering Technician and Matt Patterson Public Works Director both with the Town; a beautiful park design was created. The design included a lighted walking path with memorial pavers, stage, benches, bike racks, water feature and lots of landscaping. Now that the design was complete the fundraising needed to begin. The committee began selling memorial pavers, benches, bollard lights, maple trees and collecting other donations. While the committee was busy with fundraising efforts, the town’s staff was busy with finalizing the construction drawings and bid documents. Construction began Sept. 7, 2018, with the wonderful wet winter in White Mountains construction came to a halt until the Spring of 2019, Construction was buttoned up this month.
Contractors poured concrete curbing and the concrete stage. Town staff has laid over 8,000 12x12 pavers on the walking path, planted five maple trees, laid sod and landscaped around the stage. The town staff with assistance of park manager, Frank Naranjo, installed an irrigation system to water all the grass, plants and Christmas tree. The new park has really become a beautiful pocket park very close to the town center. Plans for a grand opening are in the works for the fall. Town staff is very excited to plan new events at the wonderful new park.
We are proud to honor the Legacy of Jack Barker. You can memorialize your loved one or commemorate an event with your own paver. There are still many pavers and bollard lights left for purchase, the pavers are $100 each and the lights are $600. Pavers can be personalized with 3 lines of 20 characters and can be purchased on-line at www.pinetoplakesideaz.gov.
The Jack Barker Memorial Fund will be hosting a golf tournament Saturday, Sept. 21, to continue raising funds for the construction of the park. There are still openings if you are interested in golfing. Call Mayor Stephanie Irwin at 928-367-6621 if you are interested.