High winds destroy sorority donation to Springfield park: ‘It just really breaks my heart.’

Months of planning that went into the Zeta Phi Beta shelter house at Perrin Woods Park was destroyed in seconds during Sunday’s wind storm.

The sorority donated the shelter house and a memorial to the Springfield park in honor of two of their founders less than a year ago. The park is at Southern Parkway and Parkwood Avenue.

“We are just thankful that no one was injured in this instance,” said National Trail Parks and Recreation Director Leann Castillo. “It’s a shame that this one tree hit the shelter.”

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A tree at least 30-feet tall fell on the shelter house late Sunday night. The impact crushed not only the structure, but also snapped a picnic table inside the shelter like a toothpick. The force was powerful enough to even crack the shelter’s concrete foundation.

The founders’ memorials were not damaged in the accident.

Neighbors said the crash sounded like an explosion when it happened.

Storm Center 7 meteorologists tracked maximum wind gusts as high as 55 mph in Springfield on Sunday night.

NTPRD maintains the park, as well as others in Springfield. Castillo said on Monday that nine trees in the district’s parks were down because of high winds, so cleaning up debris was a top priority.

“We have about 1,100 acres, so we have trees everywhere,” she said.

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Close to 1,000 Zeta Phi Beta sisters from across the country came to the park in April 2018 for a ribbon cutting.

The new amenities were the first additions at Perrin Woods in the past few years and dedicated to Myrtle Tyler Faithful and Viola Tyler Goings, two sisters from Springfield who helped found the sorority in 1920.

Marva Davis-Boswell is a Zeta who was in attendance at the dedication and also saw the damage on Monday morning while visiting her mother.

“To see it like this, it just really breaks my heart,” she said. “I knew (the founders) personally — very nice, very humble people.”

She was hopeful that a replacement shelter could be built.

Castillo said on Monday that NTPRD was in contact with both the sorority and the insurance company to see what would be covered.

“We want to make sure we get this taken care of because it’s such a great addition to the neighborhood,” Castillo said.

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