Belfast city officials and community members shared stories about former Mayor Walter Ash Jr. at a ceremony dedicating to the former mayor a small park called the Walter Ash Jr. Recreational Area. The Sept. 10 event at the park, located at 207 Swan Lake Ave., drew more than 30 friends and admirers.

City Councilor Neal Harkness called him “the most well-informed mechanic I’ve ever met.” Mayor Eric Sanders asked Ash to swear him in as mayor. Councilor Paul Dean grew up with him and called him a mentor after being elected to City Council. Each speaker shared a unique memory of Ash with the crowd.

“No one’s given more service to the city than you have, and I wish there was a bigger park to name after you,” Harkness said.

Councilor Mike Hurley even gave a public apology for supporting his opponent, Samantha Paradis, in Ash's last run for mayor in 2017, a seat he lost.

Ash was humble about the park dedication and said, “It just boggles my mind that someone would think of doing this for me…. I’m just pleased you folks thought enough of me to do this, thank you.”

The park overlooks part of Mason Pond, a common area for recreational sports like duck hunting, canoeing and ice skating. A former ice company owned the site and used to cut and sell ice from the pond when Ash was a young child.

Back then, Ash said the city was more of an industrial town, and houses on Bayview Street, and similar areas, could be bought for little more than $1,000.

The 76-year-old former state representative and city mayor has lived in Belfast his entire life with his wife of nearly 56 years. He owned and ran Eastside Garage for 45 years until his son took the business five years ago.

He said of his service that he wanted to take care of his community the same way it took care of him. Ash represented the city in multiple capacities over the course of his life. He can still be found having coffee with friends first thing in the morning at McDonald's, though COVID-19 has impacted that morning routine. He helps his son with errands for the garage and is spending much of his time rebuilding a ’61 bubble top Chevy.

“This is my home; everybody should be involved, don’t you think?” he asked, adding: “… The community takes care of me, I’ll take care of them.”