Land Park couple keep their neighborhood beautiful
By Jessica Laskey
If you see two people in their late 70s weeding, planting or pruning in William Land Park, they’re probably Jeannie and Dale Claypoole, longtime Land Park residents who have made it their mission to keep the area beautiful.
“We’re advocates for the park,” says Jeannie, a certified Master Gardener and former school psychologist whose green thumb is behind much of the landscaping at McClatchy High School, along Sutterville Road and in Land Park. “If something’s not right, we try to find somebody who will make it right.”
The Claypooles came to Sacramento from the Midwest when Dale was stationed here for the Air Force. They liked the city—especially its lack of snow—and stayed, settling in South Land Park.
Shortly after moving into the neighborhood, the couple became aware of the Sacramento Zoo’s plans to expand its footprint—a controversial discussion that’s been ongoing since the 1970s. Concerned those plans might disrupt the “valuable community asset” that is the park, the Claypooles joined four other families to form the Association to Preserve Land Park (now the Land Park Community Association). They provide a voice for the 160-acre park, which opened in 1918.
Over the years, Jeannie and Dale have contributed hundreds of hours of labor and visionary garden planning to their neighborhood. Jeannie’s first project after completing Master Gardener training in 1995 was renovation of Swanston Terrace, where a memorial fountain and statue dedicated to early Sacramento cattleman Charles Swanston stands.
“There wasn’t much there at the time,” Jeannie recalls. “It used to be landscaped so beautifully, but then the funding dried up. I’d drive by there and think, this could be so beautiful again.”
Acting on her own, Jeannie secured funds from the community association, Girl Scouts, Sacramento Tree Foundation and the city to spruce up the area. She took care of the prettified plot for many years until Craig Powell founded the Land Park Volunteer Corps, a group that meets on the first Saturday of each month for landscape maintenance in the park.
Jeannie didn’t stop there. She saw the area could use more trees, so she canvased neighborhood businesses and asked if she could plant a tree on their property with money from the Tree Foundation. Most said yes. Many of the 100-plus trees she planted still stand.
In the 1990s, the Claypooles were instrumental in cleaning up the entrance to their neighborhood at the corner of Land Park Drive and Sutterville Road. “The corner had been a mess for many years, so we thought, let’s make it a nice welcoming to Land Park,” says Dale, a former legislative analyst and leader of the California State Water Resources Control Board. “After a number of years, we were able to nag (the city) enough and got $26,000.” The city hired an architect for the project. Jeannie and longtime park caretaker Daisy Mah suggested which plants to use.
These days, you can still find Jeannie and Dale out in the park. But they know they need someone to take over their chores as they get older.
“We’re getting a little creaky,” Jeannie admits with a laugh. “We need up-and-coming leaders, experienced adults and neighbors, to participate and be replacements for us. The park is part of our lives and we know other people feel that way too.”
For more information on the Land Park Volunteer Corps, visit the Land Park Community Association website at landpark.org, under “Get Involved.”
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.