By Andrea Raby
Mason Times staff writer
In 2010, Rayner Park should have closed. Despite its history, Ingham County no longer had the budget to keep the park going. But thanks to the City of Mason and its citizens, Rayner Park is still a place to play.
Since Ingham County’s announcement in 2010, Mason has worked closely with the Rayner Park Rally Club many other community groups and businesses to save a park that means a lot to the community.
“It’s historic in the fact that it’s the very first Ingham County park,” said City Administrator Marty Colburn. “Initially they wanted a fairly sizable sum for us to purchase it from them.”
Colburn said the city negotiated the sum down so that every year for six years, Mason pays one dollar to Ingham County. At the end that period Ingham will turn the park over to Mason for one dollar. Colburn said Ingham County was spending $44,000 a year on the park’s upkeep.
In Mason, citizen’s realized the city’s need and formed the non-profit Rayner Park Rally Club.
“Our club has about a dozen members right now,” said Treasurer Diane Jackman. “For cleanups, we usually have probably 50 or more helpers come out.”
Jackman said they have two park cleanups a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Volunteers bring their own rakes, gloves and tarps, but the city donates heavy-duty items such as leaf blowers.
On April 20, the club held its spring cleanup and had their biggest turnout yet. At the end of the day, more than 60 volunteers showed up to help clear away sticks and spread wood chips.
Even kids came to help clean where they play.
Eleven-year-old Jackson Erickson, 12-year-old Jayden Hartsuff and 13-year-old Chayse Hartsuff came to rake leaves with everyone else. Jayden Hartsuff said she wanted to come to the cleanup because her teacher had told her about it in class.
“There’s a lot of things going on that, if it’s not clean it’s not going to be very fun to play at,” Jayden said.
Of course, they all still have their favorite part of the park.
“The playground,” said Chayse.
“The big slide,” said Jackson.
“The swings,” said Jayden.
The club also raises money for major improvements on the park. Recently, the club made a $1,500 donation to the completion of the Rayner Park stage, which Colburn said is 70 percent complete.
President Pam Lower said the club has raised money for new bridges, fences, water aerators and much more.
Lower said the group also holds a fundraiser every year to raise money for repairs. The third annual Rally for Rayner will take place on May 19 from noon to 8 p.m. at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.
Colburn said the city purchases stain for the playground equipment and annually the Mason High School senior class re-stains the wood. Two full-time city employees and summer help also maintain the park.
“The Little League built a brand-new field out there, the Girl Scouts helped us paint the bathrooms and we’ve had other groups help, such as Johnson Control Industries and a Boy Scout doing his Eagle Scout project,” Colburn said. “It’s been phenomenal.”
For more information about the park cleanups and the Rally for Rayner, visit the Rayner Park Rally Club’s Facebook page.