CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Sept. 24, 2019) - A historic Japanese park on U.S. Army grounds, complete with an arched bridge and quaint koi pond, was in disrepair, and Kenneth Estabrook wanted to restore it to its former glory.Located on Sagami General Depot, Shrine Park, as it is called, has been providing its visitors "a place of Zen" since it was built in the 1930s, Estabrook said, but it had not received major maintenance for more than 20 years.That changed in July.It was then that U.S. Army Garrison Japan's Directorate of Public Works began a three-month project to make Shrine Park a landmark worthy of its appeal once again."Shrine Park is nostalgic to me and to a lot of people," said Estabrook, DPW's chief Sagami sub-facilities engineer. "It was about time to perform maintenance and repair to keep it in usable condition."
The park restoration was split into two projects: repainting the bridge, and cleaning and repairing the pond. But what began as a DPW project soon came to involve the community.Everyone from Soldiers and volunteers to Camp Zama's local Boy Scout troop-who approached Estabrook looking to take part in a community project over the summer-eventually came on board to assist with the restoration.DPW began by draining the water in the pond water and temporarily relocating the koi, and priming the bridge for repainting. The scouts and other volunteers painted the bridge, removed mud from the pond, and patched cracks in the cement."[The volunteers] were very productive and helpful working as team," said Estabrook. "It surprisingly went very well, considering the challenges of scheduling, coordinating and the weather."Soldiers belonging to Camp Zama's Better Opportunities for Singles Soldiers program, or BOSS, were part of the team of volunteers helping with the restoration. Spc. Aaron Downing, BOSS vice president, said the project was a great opportunity for the Soldiers in the program to establish connections through community outreach."We are trying to extend our hands to help out other people in the community," said Downing, assigned to the 311th Military Intelligence Battalion. "I think this was very successful; we learned new things from each other."Skylar Venn, 15, a member of the Camp Zama Boy Scouts, said helping with the restoration project along with his fellow scouts was exciting because he got to work with different people and improve his communication skills.Skylar said he also gained lifelong skills that he can use when he is older, and added that he is proud to have been able to give back to his community by helping to preserve something that others will visit and enjoy in the future.The DPW staff is scheduled to complete the project by the end of September, Estabrook said.