At Breslau Memorial Park the grass is cut, the baseball diamonds are ready and the beach volleyball courts are groomed all thanks to one man: Jim Burton. Burton was honoured last weekend by the Breslau Recreation Association for his dedication to the park over the last 20 years. The pavilion in the park will be renamed the Jim Burton Pavilion. “We thought we should really do something for him. We tend to do things when people are leaving and this time we didn’t really want to do that, we wanted to appreciate him and all the hard work he does,” said Lisa Nadon, the organization’s president.
Burton, who works for paving company Heat Design, spends all his spare time at the park.
“He puts in a lot of time. He works a full-time job and afterwards he comes down to the park and works until the sun sets,” said Patty Burton, Jim’s wife. “He is here rain or shine. Without him, the ballpark would have died; I am happy that they are appreciative of all his hard work he is has done.”
Employed by the township to cut the grass, Burton does everything else on a volunteer basis, including dealing with the rentals of the park for tournaments in the summer and the disposal of the garbage that accumulates in the park over a weekend.
“He does this because he enjoys it, he is always involved in the community and he spends a lot of hours at this park,” said Nadon. “He is always here either draining the fields, lining the baseball fields, or taking care of the soccer pitch – anything that has to be done at the park, he does it.”
Not one to be the centre of attention, Burton was kept in the dark about the pavilion re-naming as his friends and families gathered in the park to celebrate his accomplishments at a surprise party.
“This is unbelievable, it’s beautiful,” said Burton. “I have always been a community guy, and since my kids were at the age where they were using the park a lot I have been here and seen a lot of changes over the years.”
When Burton first began working at the park there was only one ball diamond and an open field.
During his time as parks and maintenance chair it has grown to include another ball diamond, soccer fields, tennis courts, volleyball courts and a children’s playground.
Burton has had a vision for the park for many years and is now beginning to see his hard work pay off.
“There are a lot of young people coming into Breslau now and small kids are using the playground, which is good to see. Breslau is a safe community where kids can still come to the park at a young age and feel safe, their parents don’t have to worry about them.”
Burton hopes to see an arena built in the park over the next 10 years as the population of Breslau increases, but his first goal is to have a modern washroom facility built, as the current one is more than 50 years old and has only one toilet.
“There is still a lot to do. We may be a small community, but we have some big support in the community,” said Burton. “I have met a lot of good friends at this park over the years and I know I can count on any of them to help me out when I need it. This was a very active park, but as the community grew older it was used less and less and now we are seeing a rebirth of the park as younger families are moving into the community.”
The pavilion will be used to host family reunions, community barbecues and the numerous tournaments through out the year.
“I just want him to know how appreciative we are of him. He takes immense pride in this park; people are always talking about how great he is, he loves the community, the park and wants to see people in the park, using it,” said Nadon.” We couldn’t do it with out him.”