New playgrounds, public art coming to DeWitt Township

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Ben Shockley

A sign featuring a rendering of the planned DeWitt Sports Park hangs from a caution fence surrounding the park.

This summer, two public parks will get new playgrounds along with other improvements, and the DeWitt Downtown Development Authority is partnering with a local artist to install six benches in the downtown area. 

City Administrator Dan Coss said the community’s response to a survey taken last year showed great interest in improving playgrounds in DeWitt’s parks. Some of the equipment is nearing 25 years old. Installation of playgrounds in the DeWitt Sports Park and Riverside Park was expected to begin in the first week of May.

Play equipment in Riverside Park, which sits on the Looking Glass River, will be boat-themed, with the playground designed to look like two ships. Improvements to Riverside Park also include a pour-in-place rubber safety surface, replacing the wood chip surface under the old playground. Unitary playground surface materials such as pour-in-place rubber are considered safer for children than wood chips, without the negative environmental impacts of shredded rubber surfaces. 

The Looking Glass River flows through Riverside Park in DeWitt.

The new playground in DeWitt Sports Park will be sports-themed and intended for children ages 5-12. DeWitt Township contracted Pentura LLC, a recreation products and services provider based in Brighton, to construct both new playgrounds at a total cost of almost $540,000. Coss said, “Now is the time to spend some money and energy on our parks,” calling the projects a “top-to-bottom overhaul.”

DeWitt Township is also seeking a grant to overhaul Orla McGuire Park, though that project is not expected to begin this summer. Plans for improvements to Orla McGuire Park include four pickleball courts, adult outdoor fitness equipment, and a new pedestrian path along the Looking Glass River. 

Coss said that DeWitt Township is hoping to improve all of its parks in the coming years, but the Sports Park, Riverside Park, and Orla McGuire Park are the township’s first priority.

The DeWitt Downtown Development Authority also received a $10,000 grant from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) for the commission, creation, and installation of public art. Coss called this project, “functional art,” as the township will be installing six benches in the downtown district with designs from a local artist. Additionally, the benches will be engraved with fun facts about DeWitt.

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