Hazel ParkJuly 13, 2012
Hazel Park library raising money for patio project
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — Right now, there’s a garden next to Hazel Park Memorial Library, with eight flowerbeds and a wealth of plant species maintained by library and city staff. They’re green and beautiful, but difficult to maintain and frequently overgrown.
Meanwhile, on any afternoon after school there are as many as 12 kids piled on the lone picnic table in the garden. Also, it’s not uncommon to see a throng of people waiting outside the main doors each day before the library opens.
They could use a place to sit, to read outdoors, to gather and talk, or to access the library’s wireless Internet service. A patio where the garden is now located would address all of this, but first the money must be raised.
Tentatively named the Hazel Park Library Friends Plaza, the patio would be on the Carlisle side of the library at Nine Mile and John R, near the parking lot shared by the library, City Hall, 43rd District Court, Police Department and Post Office.
“The area is visible from Nine Mile when you’re driving up, so it’s definitely an important area we would like to improve, to help improve the overall image of the city and the library in particular,” said Jessica Keyser, library director.
The goal is to scale back the current garden to something more manageable, and to create a 1,500-square-foot space with an aesthetically appealing café feel. The patio would include four tables with four chairs each, all commercial-grade and permanently fixed to the ground, so they don’t get stolen or blown away in windy weather. Each table would also have a decorative umbrella to provide shade and add color.
“Creating the patio out here has been a dream of mine for quite some time, pretty much since I started working here in 2008,” Keyser said. “I’ve really seen a need for a thriving outdoor gathering space in the city. Our little municipal complex here is really the heart of the city; we don’t have a downtown, per se, so this is really the main drag for Hazel Park.”
To help design the patio, Keyser tapped Hazel Park’s planning director, Jeff Campbell. He devised a space that would also be handicap accessible, with ramps for people in wheelchairs and tables with spaces to accommodate them.
“I wanted to make a design where it’s accessible and useful for the public, without eliminating the aesthetic value of the garden,” Campbell said. “We’re also looking to use materials that would not require an enormous amount of maintenance, upkeep and costs for the city.”
The overall cost is estimated to be about $10,000, which includes the concrete, commercial-grade tables and chairs, and umbrellas. The library attempted to secure a competitive grant from the Michigan Municipal League that solicited votes online, and while it came up short, it still received 4,000 votes in support.
Now the library is turning to fundraising events, including one at Coney Cravers Aug. 10: People bring fliers issued by the library, and the restaurant donates part of the proceeds.
In addition, the library is selling coupons to Macy’s Shop for a Cause benefit Aug. 25. The coupons, which cost $5 apiece, provide a 25 percent discount on most purchases made at the Macy’s event, which supports various charitable causes. All proceeds raised by the coupons go to the library patio project.
The hope is to make the patio a reality and enhance not only the library, but also the surrounding area.
“Many great American cities have a beautiful municipal plaza serving as a beacon of the city’s commitment to the public, as well as a model for others on how to create and maintain a meaningful place,” Campbell said.
Keyser agreed, and said the demand is evident.
“There’s clearly a need for more seating outside the library,” Keyser said. “I really believe if we put tables and chairs out there, they will come.”
The Hazel Park Memorial Library, 123 E. Nine Mile, will be issuing fliers that people can take to Coney Cravers, 22821 S. Chrysler Drive, on Aug. 10; Coney Cravers will then donate a percentage of its food sales to Hazel Park Library Friends to support the patio project. The library is also selling coupons to Macy’s Shop for a Cause benefit Aug. 25, with proceeds supporting the patio project. For more information, call the library at (248) 546-4095.
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