Playground opens bearing Sierra Newbold's name
West Jordan • To say that Noah Harper likes the new Sierra Newbold Playground would be an understatement.
"Make a playground like this just for me in our backyard," the 8-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind, said as he explored the facility on Friday.
A rubberized surface makes the entire playground which officially opened Friday accessible to wheelchairs and walkers, like the one Noah uses, and allows children of all abilities to play on the equipment.
The Sierra Newbold Playground, at Ron Wood Park is named for a 6-year-old girl who was abducted from her West Jordan home in 2012 and killed. City officials say they chose the name to honor Sierra's life and bring awareness to the evil of child abuse.
Sierra's sister, 7-year-old Taylor, cut the ribbon during a ceremony attended by city officials, police officers and representatives of the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Charities, which helped fund two new basketball courts at the park.
Sierra's mother, Kathy Newbold, tearfully told those assembled: "I am deeply honored to stand before you today as a representative of my daughter.
"She was an amazing daughter. She loved the outdoors. This park is the best way to honor her and keep her memory alive."
West Jordan Mayor Kim Rolfe said naming a playground that celebrates children of all abilities after Sierra is a fitting tribute to the girl, who loved playing outdoors and making new friends.
"This park is a great community asset," the mayor added.
Friday's event also celebrated the opening of the new Jazz basketball courts and a 6,600-square-foot splash pad. Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby told the attendees that "we want to be a part with you in making this a great community."
Following the ceremony, kids flocked into the 13,237-square-foot playground, which has ramps up to decks that have accessible play options and a transfer module so children can get onto the equipment. Other features include slides, swings, spinners, a spider web climber, a glider and musical play panels.
The park, at 5900 New Bingham Highway, is named after West Jordan Police Officer Ron Wood, who was shot and killed Nov. 18, 2002, by a robbery suspect he was chasing. The suspect, 17-year-old Justin Van Roekel, later shot and killed himself when confronted by another officer.
Sierra was kidnapped June 26, 2012, from her bedroom, beaten, raped, strangled and thrown into a nearby canal, where she drowned, according to court documents.
A neighbor, Terry Lee Black, 42, has been charged in the case with aggravated murder, child kidnapping and rape of a child. No trial dates have been set.
About the playground and park
The Sierra Newbold Playground, in Ron Wood Park, 5900 New Bingham Highway in West Jordan, is designed for children of all abilities. The playground is part of the park's Phase II, which also has two Jazz basketball courts, a splash pad, two tennis courts, pavilions and restrooms.
Phase II cost about $3.8 million and was funded by park impact fees, which are paid by developers. The West Jordan Exchange Club also has been raising money for the playground by selling metal balloons that will be attached to a donor wall. In addition, the basketball courts were funded in part by the Utah Jazz and Larry H. Miller Charities.
The first phase of the park includes five baseball fields; in the next five years, fields for soccer, lacrosse, football and rugby are slated to be added. When all phases are completed, the park will cover about 64 acres.
To make a donation to support the playground, visit http://bit.ly/1kuk9d6.