Barrier-free McKinley Park shows progress

Booster club aims for late August completion of first phase

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published July 14, 2015

 A sign on the outskirts of the park tells citizens to stay away during construction periods.

A sign on the outskirts of the park tells citizens to stay away during construction periods.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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FRASER — When it comes to progress, some people don’t believe it until they see it.


But when it comes to McKinley Park in Fraser, the visual proof is there: Dirt has been strewn around, and construction vehicles have become a constant in the area, located north of 13 Mile Road in the 31000 block of Grove.


The venture has been the brainchild of the Fraser First Booster Club since its infancy. The goal of being a place of social harmony between children with and without handicaps was what spurred the idea in the first place, and it has been an operation years in the making.


From needing approval from City Council, to submitting numerous grants to different organizations to offset construction costs, it’s been an interesting ride for all involved.


At a June City Council meeting, Faurecia Interior Systems Inc. donated $5,000 toward the park. At the same meeting, John Secco, from Allegra Construction and Development, wrote a $1,000 check on the spot as his own personal contribution.


Those donations came on the heels of more than $1,300 raised this past February as part of Macomb County’s Casual Day giving program. Volunteers offered their time for the cause after County Commissioner Kathy Tocco gave the booster club a heads-up on applying for the program.


Vania Apps, the president of Fraser First, said the group is currently applying for a Department of Natural Resources Land and Water Grant with the city, and they will be notified in December whether the grant has been approved. The state visited the site the first week of July as part of the application process.


Linda Davis-Kirksey, from Fraser First,  has been arduous in making sure grants are written and applied for, Apps said.


And in more recent news, the park and Fraser First Booster Club have been featured on the “Make Macomb Your Home” blog.


The county blog describes Apps’ vision a decade ago, looking out her window and visualizing a park where everyone could play together as one. Fraser resident and special education teacher Karen Silverthorn saw a need for an outdoor play area after witnessing firsthand the tribulations that her own students suffered because of their individual needs.


Now, the park is swiftly becoming a reality that has taken all the details into consideration. It will be the first barrier-free park in the county.


“(Being featured on ‘Make Macomb Your Home’) is exciting because (the) website reaches thousands of people,” Apps said. “It’s time for more and more people to know about this exciting new all-inclusive park, so the timing is perfect.


“We will have 1,000 new sponsorship brochures in gift bags for the Run Drugs Out of Town 5K run on July 25. We are pushing hard for people to sponsor, even if it’s for a brick for the park. We want people to feel a part of building a better community by building better parks like McKinley. We feel that parks are what makes Macomb County and Fraser a place you want to make your home.”


Phase one of the park, as previously mentioned, is currently under construction, and the new goal for completion is late August.


“The rain this year really delayed this completion — and still is — but the contracting firm is putting crews there just about every day now for the last two weeks,” Apps said.


The park’s comfort station is waiting for the concrete to cure, along with the delivery of the pavilion. An inspection of the aggregate of the walking path will take place, preceding the asphalt.


“We are being told the pouring of asphalt should be a two-day process,” she said. “I will tell you that the word ‘should’ has been my nemesis lately. With good weather, it ‘should’ go as planned.”


For more information on the 30,000-square-foot playscape and all of the surrounding amenities, go to www.fraserfirst.com or look up “McKinley Barrier-Free Park” or “Fraser First Booster Club” on Facebook.

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