Bacon Park’s new  inclusive equipment includes accessible swings.

Bacon Park’s new inclusive equipment includes accessible swings.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

Former Jaycee Park gets inclusive equipment, new name

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published October 3, 2023

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BERKLEY — Berkley held a grand opening for its new inclusive playground equipment at one of its parks, and it also announced a new name for the park.

The grand opening took place at the former Jaycee Park, 3765 Webster Road, Sept. 20. The new equipment includes a soft surface design; accessible swings; a large, ramp-accessible play structure; and sensory panels.

Berkley Parks and Recreation Director Theresa McArleton said that getting a playground together like this is a process, but the city is thrilled that it’s finally open.

“We’re thrilled that we have a couple more months to play before the colder weather calls,” she said. “Honestly, the use has gone off tremendously since we’ve both done the soft and grand opening. The park is busy every day. … We’ve had an overwhelming response.”

McArleton said her favorite additions to the park include the soft surface and a zip line that’s accessible for both kids and adults.

Two days prior to the grand opening, the City Council moved to approve the renaming of the former Jaycee Park and call it Bacon Park after one of the streets next to the park.

McArleton said this has been something that people in the community have pushed for in the past — there has not been a Jaycee group in Berkley for a long time, and people call it Bacon Park — and adding the new equipment created a good time for the name change to happen.

“It was an exciting time to sort of unveil that,” she said.

Mayor Bridget Dean said it’s been the commitment of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department to have all its parks be different so that there would be something for everyone at all age levels.

She stated that the city’s parks and community spaces also help drive economic development and bring more money to the city.

“You’re at the park playing and then you think, well, maybe we should grab lunch or an ice cream or dinner or whatever. So then you filter into the city,” she said.

The new playground equipment has been in the works since 2020 as part of Berkley’s Parks and Recreation master plan. The project cost an estimated $521,888, according to the city, which was funded by Berkley, a crowdfunding campaign and a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, or MEDC.

Dean said the crowdfunding aspect, which brought in $61,800, allowed people to feel a connection to the project and to have some ownership. She also said she’s been at the park and has seen multiple generations of people utilizing the space.

“I can honestly say that Bacon Park is the physical representation of the importance, not only the city, but the Parks and Recreation Department, places on inclusive play and green spaces,” she said. “If there was any doubt, all you have to do is look at that park and it’s a reflection of the values of the community.”