By Mackenzie Mohr
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
In late February and early March, the city of East Lansing and the East Lansing Rotary Club hosted public design meetings to hear the community’s input on the planned rebuilding of the playground at Patriarche Park, said Tim McCaffery, parks, recreation and arts director.
McCaffrey and Wendy Longpre, parks, recreation and arts assistant director, brought the official Playground in the Park grant proposal to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday, March 21.
About 35 attended the public design meetings, said McCaffrey. He said that the city has received considerable positive input and support of the project as a result of the design meetings.
Longpre visited the students of two after-school programs and members of the disabled community to get design feedback from the children who will be using the structure, said McCaffrey.
“They had the kids all organized when we got there and so we walk in and there’s these 30 children or 40 children all seated at a table just looking at us,” Longpre said.
“They were very excited and very interested in offering feedback,” she said.
Longpre said that 50 children from after-school programs at Pinecrest and Marble middle schools suggested what they would like to see in the playground.
McCaffery also said the estimated cost of the project costs includes a storm water recapturing system, rainguard and garden.
“We talked about maybe incorporating that rain garden into some sort of garden design that was an acknowledgment garden as well,” said Longpre. The acknowledgement garden would list names of people who donated to the building of the play structure, she said.
On the east side of the planned structure, the relatively low-cost garden will also bring an educational aspect to the park, increasing the chance that the grant will be awarded, said Longpre.
A proposal to renovate two of the park’s five baseball diamonds was also brought to the commission.
McCaffery said improvements to the fields would include team benches and spectator bleachers as well as 6-foot-high fencing.
Vice president of the East Lansing Baseball Club Matt Phelan said that the club is confident in raising money to support the project because parents of players have been wanting these renovations for years. The club plans to raise $21,000 for the renovations, which the city will match as required in the grant application.
“Basically, throughout the summer and into July, those two fields are used almost every single night by the baseball club,” said Phelan, “I think we have a lot of people who are willing to step up and donate.”
The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 100 percent in favor of both the Playground in the Park and the baseball diamond renovation.
Soon, the proposals will be brought to the city council for a vote, said McCaffrey. He said that upon approval by the city council, the finalized grant proposals would be sent to the Department of Natural Resources for review.
“Clearly, Patriarche Park has been a priority for improvements,” said Karen Kligman, vice chair of the parks and recreation commission.
Editor’s Note: For more information on the Patriarche Park renovations, read this story about Playground in the Park: Re-imagined.