McKinley Barrier-Free Park receives federal grant

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 9, 2017

 From left, Jennifer Bolle, Ralph Lang and Candace Muncy — artists and woodworkers at Comprehensive Services for the Developmentally Disabled, or CSDD, Life Enrichment Academy in Warren — hold the Little Free Library’s new and improved door.

From left, Jennifer Bolle, Ralph Lang and Candace Muncy — artists and woodworkers at Comprehensive Services for the Developmentally Disabled, or CSDD, Life Enrichment Academy in Warren — hold the Little Free Library’s new and improved door.

Photo provided by Vania Apps

Advertisement

FRASER — The Fraser First Booster Club has worked for years to bring McKinley Barrier-Free Park to life. As time goes by, the dream is becoming a reality.

The Fraser City Council unanimously approved  matching a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant July 13.

Fraser First and the city of Fraser each leveraged $50,000 toward the cause, matching the required $100,000. An extra $9,450 from Fraser First will cover costs associated with a sandlot area for kids, including such play items as diggers and “fossils.”

WCI Contractors, Inc. which was the contractor on the park’s first phase, was awarded the contract for the second phase as the lowest bidder. City Engineer Michael Vigneron made bid award recommendations on behalf of the city.

“This is such an exciting time,” said Fraser First grant writer Linda Davis-Kirksey, who has worked with the group to attain grant funding for six years. “It’s like an ‘at last’ moment.”

Fraser First has put in well over $200,000 toward McKinley, said Councilman Michael Lesich, and he praised Davis-Kirksey for keeping the group inspired.

“You have kept us motivated. You have kept us on track. You have kept us encouraged at times that weren’t so encouraging,” Lesich said. “None of that was possible without the private donors, the fundraisers, the ice cream events, the lottery boards, the Ram’s Horn nights, the Valentine’s dances. … It really is a moment of pride for me, personally, and for my community.”

Fraser First President Vania Apps hopes the money will translate to real-time work this September in the form of three play structures for kids: a jumbo jet, the sandlot and a fire truck. The projects will be “community build” events, where volunteers can sign up and help construct the pieces.

The three pieces will join the Sway Fun glider, which was part of a grant announced in 2016. Future additions in the park’s second phase will include a cell tower, swings, climbers and a sensory area — which will incorporate different senses and include a flower bed.

Apps said the pieces are just the beginning. Other pieces — such as swings — will take more time to find due to accessibility for children with disabilities and those without them.

“We’re not only fundraising for the swings; we’re also fundraising for the surfacing of the swings, which is expensive,” Apps said.

Recently, the park’s Little Free Library got some much needed relief by way of a new door. It wasn’t a response to vandalism, Apps noted, but it was due to heavy use.

“Literally, I hear from so many people — and we’ve witnessed it so many times — where families ride their bikes here and get a book,” she said. “It wasn’t vandalism. (The door) just fell off.”

Ralph Lang, skill builder leader at Comprehensive Services for the Developmentally Disabled, or CSDD, Life Enrichment Academy in Warren, reached out to Apps in an attempt to fix the door. They reinforced a hinge that was damaged from use and added a chain to keep the door in place due to the property’s straight winds.

At press time, Apps said the library featured around 75 or so books, with every shelf full to the brim of reading material in the form of magazines and other literature. It’s a take-and-leave scenario, she said, with people being allowed to keep a book as long as they want.

“It just kind of shows how much people enjoy a space like this, and they’ve enjoyed this little library,” she said. “I think it’s been exciting to see the transformation here. …  A space you could just draw … is now a place where there’s families and children playing.”

 

A surprise gift
At the same council meeting, Fraser First was surprised with some extra cash.

Sarah Jagot and Stefanie Ross — teachers at Huron Academy in Sterling Heights — donated $1,038 that was raised by the school’s seventh-graders. Apps said Councilman Mike Carnagie made the generous donation possible in the first place.

“Sarah was a student (Carnagie) mentored during her time at Fraser High School,” Apps said. “He knew her even before that. She contacted him and asked him where the money could do the most good, and he told her about Fraser First Booster Club and the funds we were raising for McKinley Barrier-Free Park.”

On July 31, Apps and other club volunteers were ecstatic that heavy-duty park benches were finally being installed. The first three benches are already sponsored and paid for, and the club hopes to get more benches sponsored in the future — as well as a decorative trash can.

 “We hope it does make a point to the leaders of the community that this is something the public enjoys and they look forward to it, and it’s something we need more of,” she said. “Our challenge is to find a way to make that possible.”

Advertisement