By Les Smith, Park Board (February 15th, 2000, Red Oak Express)
Dutton Park enters the park spotlight this week. Located at Sixth and Grimes, this park is named after Cecil Dutton, who had a long and distinguishing history with the park board. Mr. Dutton was elected to the board in 1935, and served from 1936-1957 when he resigned from the board. His absence from the park board was short term, however. That same year, he was appointed executive secretary of the board. An accountant by trade, he kept a sharp eye on the park budget and served this position for another 21 years until he resigned his position citing that he did not believe he could continue to serve the park board at his age. So on Jan. 1, 1978, Mr. Dutton walked away, at age 83-we should all be so lucky.
Originally, this land was purchased for the express purpose of building low rent housing. The city paid HUD $7,090 for the land. In an ironic (yet typical) twist, the government then proceeded to disapprove the site for low rent housing citing Red Oak creek as the reason. Mr. Dutton then spearheaded the effort to make this land a park. In 1976, Mr. Dutton and his wife, Ethel, bought a swing set and placed it on the land, even though it was not an official park. The swing set was a memorial to their son, Finley, who was a bombardier in World War II. His plane was shot down over the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece.
On May 13, 1977, the park board agreed to name the land in honor of Mr. Dutton, after the city turned it over to the park board. Eight days later, a dedication service was held at city hall where the land officially became Dutton Park. Soon after, the Dutton’s purchased an additional piece of equipment, a Miracle Merry Flyer. Having been a baseball player in his younger years, Mr. Dutton was a sports enthusiast and envisioned the park to be a recreational area for the folks in this part of town. With wide open spaces for running, playing catch, pick-up football games as well as volleyball area, and new playground equipment (installed in 1998) along with the swing set, the dream of Mr. Dutton is reality. A very fitting tribute indeed.
The park board encourages one and all to take the opportunity to visit Dutton Park, as well as the other parks Red Oak had to offer. They are yours to enjoy.