MIDDLETON — In the early 1990s, Dorthy Davis donated a small piece of land next to her house to the city of Middleton in honor of her late husband, Harold Davis. The park was named in his honor and still today, almost 30 years later, features a plaque with his name on it.
A few weeks ago, Davis’ children were shocked to learn from friends that their father’s park would be up for auction, Kaye Henderson, Harold and Dorthy Davis’ daughter, told the Idaho Press Thursday.
“I take it personal,” Henderson said. “I feel like (Mayor Darin Taylor) is decimating my father’s memory. I feel that they should have contacted the family prior to the sale of it.”
Taylor did not respond to two phone messages Thursday requesting comment.
At a Middleton City Council meeting July 17, members voted to auction off Davis Park for a $22,000 minimum bid price. The park is 7,504 square feet, less than one-fifth of an acre, at the corner of Middleton Road and State Highway 44.
Council members upheld the decision Wednesday to hold the auction, which is scheduled for next week, with the understanding that the sale is subject to council approval, Councilman Rob Kiser told the Idaho Press. That means the council could decide not to accept the sale and let the lot remain a park.
Kiser said a longtime Middleton resident brought up the history of Davis Park during the meeting Wednesday, and the council decided to mark the sale of the park, pending council approval.
The city has no record of the dedication of the park or the story of how it came to be, Kiser said. A story in the Middleton Gazette from May 7, 1992, announced the donation of a Scotch Pine tree from the Davis family to put in the park. The story says the Davis family donated the property to the city in memory of Harold Davis, who died in 1977.
Henderson said her mother was approached by the city in 1992, asking if she would sell them the land to build a small park. Her mother agreed to instead donate the land and dedicate the park to Harold Davis.
“She was just doing it out of the goodness of her heart,” their son Kenny Davis said Thursday.
Henderson said she found out about the auction a few weeks ago from a friend. She said she immediately called Taylor to tell him that her mother had donated the land to the city in memory of Harold Davis.
Henderson said Taylor told her he would look into the park’s history and present it to the City Council at the meeting Wednesday. Henderson had not heard from Taylor by Thursday morning.
Kiser said the council was looking to sell the small park because it was costing the city to maintain and not getting a lot of use. The auction is set to happen next week.
Henderson, who lives in Washington state, said if her friends in Middleton hadn’t told her about the park, she wouldn’t have known of the plans.
“My mother passed away a few years ago, and I am just thankful she doesn’t know what is happening,” Henderson said. “She would really be devastated.”
Dorothy Davis, who had moved to Washington to be closer to her children, died in 2014. Her obituary mentions the park, saying: “Dorothy and Harold raised their children in Middleton and a park named in Harold’s memory carries the Davis name.”
Kenny Davis said he and his wife sometimes visit the Treasure Valley, and when they do, they like to drive by his mother’s old house and the park.
“It means a lot to us, not to anyone else probably,” he said.
He choked up as he recalled the memories. The Davis children were born in Nampa, raised in Middleton and graduated from Middleton High School. Today, they all live in Washington.
“We have very fond memories of growing up there with our little family,” another son, Larry Davis, said. “Regardless of how many years it has been or how far we’ve traveled, we all have very fond memories of Middleton.”
Kiser said the council was not aware of the history of the park and now has a greater understanding of what it means to the family.