Sept. 25 marked the official grand opening of the Nathan Haase Park in Strathmore, a memorial to the man whose name the greenspace now bears.
The small ceremony recognized the monument constructed in Hillview community, which has been several years in the making.
“Today is the grand opening of Nathan Haase Park. What we did is, I passed this park with the Town council … just over two years ago and we were going to do a grand opening last year, but it was put on hold because of COVID-19,” said Preston Rusnack, a friend of the late Haase.
“I started this park to keep Nathan’s name and legacy alive and so that his name is not forgotten.”
According to Rusnack, Haase was a community man — a firefighter, soccer player, a permanent resident.
“He grew up here … he always made time for everybody and was just a huge part of the community.”
Haase was killed in a work related incident while working with Enmax, a position Rusnack said was Haase’s dream job, after only being with the company for a few months.
“It was kind of a humid day and they were fixing some household electrical and I guess he got a little too close to the main [electrical] line. Something arced and the rest is history.”
Rusnack pitched the memorial park to town council several years ago after raising enough money to build it, said it was agreed to unanimously.
The eventual plan is to continue to develop the area around the monument. Rusnack suggested adding trees, a sign and dugouts for the adjacent baseball field.
Rusnack hosts a golf tournament in Strathmore every year in his friend’s name, with the regular goal of raising $10,000 per tournament. He hopes to add to that by hosting baseball and soccer games in the newly dedicated field.
The proceeds from the tournament was previously donated as scholarships for students. Now, the money goes towards developing the park.
“As the years go on, we’re going to add to this park and just make it bigger and better as time goes on,” said Rusnack.
“He was a really close friend of me and my brothers. He was like a brother to us and he was a big part of the community. He always was.”
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times