John Elias, who lives across the street from Elizabeth Park in Lansing Township, recalls his neighbor, Cheryl Basey, putting her ambitions into action.
Basey had a family to worry about. Before passing away, Elias recalls her being the driving force behind creating Elizabeth Park, and arranging for the upkeep of it afterwards.
“Most people in this area rent houses and have kids. Cheryl’s house was right next to this empty lot and on top of that she couldn’t see her kids when they were playing outside,” Elias said. “I don’t remember how long the park took to build, that was so many years ago.
“I do remember at one point all of the brush and entanglement along that fence was gone and she was able to see her kids play at the park from inside the house. People want to visibly see their kids play outside, that’s the goal of the park— it’s more appealing that way but it’s not kept up anymore.”
Supervisor of Lansing Township Diontrae Hayes said the township does have a maintenance crew on staff for their parks.
“The maintenance staff is scheduled for the upkeep of the parks such as mowing the lawns, tree removal or installation of playgrounds,” Hayes said. “How often they get out there really depends on the season. I know in the summer maintenance is out mowing the lawns two to three times a week.”
Hayes said that residents can contact the township if they have any questions or comments about the upkeep of the parks.
Lansing Township is home to seven different parks located on both the east and west sides of the township.
Associate Professor at Michigan State University Chuck Nelson who works in the Department of Community and Sustainability says that on average, the whole process of building a park really depends on whether or not you have the money. If the money is available, the process of building a park can be quick. However, accessing a grant could take about 16 months to do anything. Most local governments usually take about five years starting with the acquisition idea to getting the money and cutting the ribbon.
“There are three key things when it comes to parks and local government,” Nelson said. “First, it promotes health throughout the community by allowing the residents to engage in an active lifestyle when given places like parks to visit. Second, parks in communities will increase their property value when leaving an area in its natural state. Parks in a community will do a number of things like bringing in visitors for attractions like trails or simply bringing them into the area.”
Elizabeth Park, located on Mifflin Road off of Michigan Avenue, provides an area for Samue Proby’s 4-month-old puppy to play at.
“I just found this park and it’s great,” Proby said. “I live in the area and parks are great to get out and play and for people to visit. This one is beautiful.”
Hayes said currently there are conversations going on in the township about what updates are to come for the parks and recreation. The township’s current master plan was drafted in 2010 and updated in 2014.
“Our current plan is being revised in the long-term use of our parks for the residents. We need to be thinking, what will our community look like 10 to 20 years from now?” Hayes said. “It is the long-term crafting of the community and how it can better improve the parks for the well being of the residents.”