Big donation yields Bob York Memorial Splash Park name
Oh, the weather outside's been frightful but the news is so delightful.
Call it good news. Call it a Christmas present for the community. Call it the culmination of a splash park project that began with initial discussions of the idea in spring 2011.
The Greencastle Civic League has announced that Nick and Rob York of York Automotive have made the largest single local donation to the splash park project, and in return have received naming rights for the planned Robe-Ann Park/ Greencastle Aquatic Center amenity.
The undisclosed amount donated by the Yorks puts the Civic League within striking distance of reaching its two fundraising goals -- $150,000 to match the Land & Water Conservation grant received by the city and $12,000 to start an endowment designed to fund future maintenance and repair of the splash park facility.
"We're $10,000 away from reaching both of those goals, so we're very excited," Civic League Splash Park Co-Chairman Emily Knuth told the Park Board at its December meeting.
Civic League President Suzanne Masten echoed those comments as the announcement was made at the Yorks' East Side dealership on Indianapolis Road.
"All of the great things we've been talking about," she said to the Yorks in regard to the splash park project, "wouldn't be happening without people like you."
Nick and Rob York are making their gift in memory of their father, Bob York, who grew up in Greencastle and started the car dealership that has moved into its second generation as a pillar of the community.
"He grew up going to the city park as a kid," Nick York offered, "and found great value in that. It's like Rob said, he (their dad) would have done the same thing (make the difference-making donation), no question."
Rob York said the contribution allows the Yorks to share their father's legacy with the community.
"Dad was always very community-minded," he said. "We wanted to continue that, and knew that Dad would be in full favor of giving back to the community and doing something to benefit the kids."
Rob recalled how he and Nick were still just considering the possibility of the donation to the Civic League's signature project as he was commuting to the dealership in Clay County on a recent morning.
"It was as if Dad was sitting that seat with me riding to Brazil. I could hear him say, 'You need to do that.'"
When their father died on March 11, 2011, the York brothers were amazed at the stories shared with them at the funeral home receiving line. They heard from numerous people how Bob York had helped with extra cash or given them a great deal because they needed a car, or whose lives he managed to affect in other ways.
"All those people that he touched," Rob offered, "it's part of his legacy that we need to remember that."
The Yorks particularly embrace the notion the splash park will be a free amenity that will help attract children and young families to the park and the community.
"To be honest," Rob York continued, "we've never done anything like this. Frankly it makes it more special than just having a name up there. It's not just stroking a check or just a name, it's about community."
Both Nick and Rob credit the diligence of Masten and Knuth in securing the major donation.
"It's been their persistence," Nick York said. "I don't know how many times I'd end up saying, 'Let me think about it.' But there's great value, and they made a very compelling argument."
The dealership location is the same site upon which Bob York started selling cars for Jim Harris Chevrolet in 1973, and where in 1987 he opened York Pontiac-Olds-GMC.
Their automobile empire has done nothing but grow since. York Automotive Group was established in 2000 with the addition of the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep franchise in Crawfordsville. In 2005 the York Automotive Group added Chevrolet Buick and Pontiac franchises in Brazil. And in 2006 added Chevrolet to its Greencastle dealership.
Rob York has said he considers it an honor when people often tell him "you're just like your dad."
He and brother Nick stress that they continue to run the business the same as if their father were still in charge of York Automotive.
"We've been able to take his vision and his foundation," Rob said, "and take it into the 21st century and beyond."
And now his name will adorn an exciting new development for the community.
Meanwhile, Masten said proper signage for the splash park is still being discussed.
She suggested it might possibly take the form of the John Fallis Field archway signage at Greencastle High School's football stadium, while a plaque with Bob York's likeness and biographical information certainly would be incorporated somehow as well.