Drake Goetz Memorial Park nearly completed; fills needs of Huntington

Local volunteers donated their time this summer to install playground equipment and pour sections of the cement walkway for Drake Goetz Memorial Park, located at 4082N-350E in Huntington. The park features a soccer field and pickleball court and will also include playground equipment, a walking path and more.
Local volunteers donated their time this summer to install playground equipment and pour sections of the cement walkway for Drake Goetz Memorial Park, located at 4082N-350E in Huntington. The park features a soccer field and pickleball court and will also include playground equipment, a walking path and more. Photo provided.

Drake Goetz was known by many in the Huntington community, growing up in Huntington and attending Life Church. He attended Canterbury High School, where he was a soccer player.

At the age of 15, Drake died after being involved in an ATV accident. Shortly after his death, family members and friends started thinking up ways to help Drake’s memory live on that could also impact the community he grew up in. The answer became building the Drake Goetz Memorial Park.

Now, in August 2020, the Drake Goetz Memorial Park is near completion. According to Park President Dianna Mertz, the park needs approximately $8,000 to finish remaining projects around the park.

“We are so close to being finished. Parts of the park are already in use, like the soccer field and the pickleball courts,” Mertz said. “Local kids and some soccer teams have already approached us, asking if it would be all right to use the park for practices and games.”

Mertz’ son, Carter Mertz, was a close friend of Drake’s. The property that the park is built on, which is located at 4082N-350E in Huntington, is the land where Carter and Drake used to spend time together to play.

“We thought it was important to use the land that the boys used to play on,” Dianna Mertz said. “The park was started because of the friendship that Carter and Drake shared, and we wanted to keep that memory alive.”

The park board had hoped to have the park open by the end of August, but troubles with rubber supplies and shipping that were brought on by COVID-19 have pushed the official opening date back.

One of the last projects that needs completed for the park is to install turf around the playground equipment that has been installed, as well as some tree planting and some brickwork.

The entire park has been designed so that people of all ages and all abilities can be included. Park board members took into consideration activities that Drake and his friends would partake in, as well as what other parks in Huntington County offered or did not provide.

Originally, thoughts of having a baseball field were brought up, but because other parks in Huntington already offered them, a soccer field was installed instead. Rather than offering a tennis court, which might not be as inclusive for age ranges and abilities, a pickleball court was installed.

“We saw that there was a great need in this area, and that’s why we went with an inclusive playground,” Mertz said.

Julie Goetz, a park board member and Drake’s aunt, says that the support from the community for the park has been amazing.

“So many individuals and businesses have supported not just through monetary donations, but their time and talents,” Goetz said. “At the park build, we had so many volunteers who worked so hard to get the playground built, even though it was so hot. Nobody complained; they just jumped in and made it work.”

An official grand opening will be held for the park at a later date, once all projects have been completed. In the time being, grants are being written and donations are being accepted to reach the last small amount of the park’s fund-raising goal.

Updates and information for the park may be found on the Drake Goetz Memorial Park Facebook page or by visiting drakegoetzpark.org.