Following years of budget issues making park renovations difficult, Eastpointe unveiled its first major park project in more than 14 years at Roxana Park, which officially was reopened Sept. 9.

Following years of budget issues making park renovations difficult, Eastpointe unveiled its first major park project in more than 14 years at Roxana Park, which officially was reopened Sept. 9.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Eastpointe unveils new additions to Roxana Park

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 17, 2019

 Ten-year-old Taryn Riney, of Eastpointe, gives her little brother, Kaleb Riney, 3, a push on the new swings at Roxana Park in Eastpointe.

Ten-year-old Taryn Riney, of Eastpointe, gives her little brother, Kaleb Riney, 3, a push on the new swings at Roxana Park in Eastpointe.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 After several years of having only deteriorating equipment, Eastpointe’s Roxana Park was able to get all-new playground equipment as part of a new push to revitalize the city’s parks.

After several years of having only deteriorating equipment, Eastpointe’s Roxana Park was able to get all-new playground equipment as part of a new push to revitalize the city’s parks.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE — Members of the Eastpointe community gathered at Roxana Park on Sept. 9 for the ribbon-cutting on a new set of playground equipment that will revitalize the neighborhood park.

Due to budgetary constraints, this is the first major park project Eastpointe has been able to undertake in more than 15 years. 

“The mayor has been asking to fix up parks in the city for 14 years,” said Gary Sesak, the chairman of the Eastpointe Parks Commission. “When the market crashed in 2007 or 2008, and property values declined so heavily, cities had huge budget issues because they weren’t getting much back from the state, so a lot of things got cut. Parks and recreation was one of the first things to go. We haven’t had a really representative parks and recreation program for almost 15 to 20  years, so when the city decided to get things going again, some residents felt things weren’t moving fast enough. A problem this big can’t be fixed overnight, but this is a big step in the right direction.”

The project cost $135,000, but much of it was paid for by Community Development Block Grants. Many city officials had long been looking at projects that could be done to improve the parks in the community, and research showed that Roxana Park was at the top of the list.

“This project has been in development since about last August,” said Sasek. “We found out the city was looking at expanding a park, so we did tours of all of our parks. The city said demographics and everything they had run (past residents) suggested this be the park something was started in. The City Council approved it, and we looked at multiple possible layouts, and everything has come together nicely.”

Sasek added that the park was desperately overdue for updates and had nothing but what remained of some rundown equipment from decades earlier and a baseball diamond.

“This area used to be Roxana Park Elementary, which was taken down in the 1970s,” he explained. “The land was gifted to the school district, and they were told they could sell half the block for houses, but the other half had to be maintained as a park and field. We finally got a swing and slide in here in 1981. What was left of them were taken out a few weeks ago before the new equipment came in. It was dilapidated; the swingset didn’t even have any swings on them anymore. It was just the frame and a slide.”

Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley has been among the most vocal proponents for park upgrades, and she took returning the city to a financial position where park improvements could be made as a personal cause during her time in office.

“The first time I was elected to council, we drove around the city and there was just a swing frame and an old slide here, and since then, it’s been a crusade to make this happen,” Pixley said. “Of course, you have to wait until you have the money and you have the right people in the right places at the right time.”

She added that this was a big step for the city and should be the beginning of far more park improvements in the near future.

“This is very exciting for the city because it’s a neighborhood park and returns some play equipment back into the neighborhood for the kids. Many of the people here today grew up in the neighborhood and were here when there were swings,” remarked Pixley. “I want to see another one. We have two other neighborhood parks with nothing on them, and I would like to see something happen at those two.”

The commission looked at several different layouts for the park and narrowed the options to three choices, which they showed to members of the community to see which would be most compatible with what residents wanted. The Parks Commission is already looking at what the next improvements for Eastpointe’s parks could be.

“We have a phase II plan for this (park),” Sasek said. “We also have phase I plans for some other parks where we’ll be putting in small lending libraries, benches and creating an area where we might be able to set up an ice rink this winter.”

He added that other features such as gazebos and splash pads at parks are being considered as part of phase II work either at Roxana or at one of the other parks the city is hoping to improve.

Many residents from the neighborhoods near Roxana Park expressed their approval of the new equipment and the city’s renewed efforts to improve the parks.

“I think it’s great. It’s another park to bring my grandson to,” said resident Cindy Rounding. “It looks fantastic and there’s plenty of kids playing on it already. I’ve lived here since 2010 … and it was sad it was sitting here, not being able to be used, for so long. I’m hoping they’ll do something similar over at Shamrock Park and Kennedy Park.”

Sheri Everhart brought her 2-year-old son, Leiv, to the ribbon-cutting, and he quickly started playing on the new play structures.

“It’s so close to my house. We go for walks every day, but we never really had any place to walk to,” Everhart said. “Now this is two streets over. It lets him socialize with some of the other kids. I like that there’s more than just a small slide for toddlers and younger kids; it has some interactive elements for them.”

City officials looked over the numerous children who were eager to try out the new park equipment following the ribbon-cutting and said they were pleased with the results of their work.

“This provides play for the kids, which is something they haven’t had in this area for a very long time. I live in this area, and there’s been (no substantial upgrades) here since 1981,” said Sasek. “We are very happy with how this has turned out.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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