The City Council approved the purchase of $75,000 in new equipment for Gaffke Park, the first neighborhood park to be rehabilitated with new playground equipment.

The City Council approved the purchase of $75,000 in new equipment for Gaffke Park, the first neighborhood park to be rehabilitated with new playground equipment.

Photo by Deb Jacques


New equipment coming to Gaffke Park in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 10, 2019

 Parks and Recreation Director Henry Bowman said the equipment is at least 20 years old and experiencing wear and some safety issues.

Parks and Recreation Director Henry Bowman said the equipment is at least 20 years old and experiencing wear and some safety issues.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — As part of its rollout of new equipment at neighborhood parks around St. Clair Shores, the City Council approved the purchase of $75,000 worth of new equipment for Gaffke Park, located on Gaffke Street, west of Little Mack Avenue.

Mayor Kip Walby said that the city has been discussing doing work in the neighborhood parks for more than a year and plans to use money raised from the city’s rehabilitation and resale of homes seized for back taxes to pay for new equipment and play structures.

Two parks had been considered by the city to have the first work done: Brys Park and Welsh Park. However, the city has applied for a grant from the state to pay for the work in Brys Park, and Welsh Park is located on the Macomb County drain, which is scheduled to have work done on it by the Macomb County Public Works Office this year. Parks and Recreation Director Henry Bowman said they will work on the park with assistance from the county once that work has been completed.

Another park that was considered to be first on the list was Frederick Park, Bowman said, but the city is instead looking to redesign that park to add soccer fields since the city will be losing fields at Heritage Church, which is being sold. St. Clair Shores will also work to redo the drainage in the park when that work is done to help alleviate standing water.

Because of all those reasons, he said, Gaffke Park was instead chosen for the first round of playground equipment replacement. The equipment in the park is more than 20 years old, he said, doesn’t provide much play value and has some minor safety issues that need to be addressed.

The playground committee decided to explore themes for the equipment at Gaffke Park and decided on a fire engine theme, with a play structure facade that looks like a fire truck. The St. Clair Shores Fire Department logo will be on the structures to tie it to the community.

“I’m excited to see we’re going to give some of these neighborhood parks some personality,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie said.

Bowman said that the Parks and Recreation Department is exploring other grant opportunities and business sponsorships for future playground development. The city is looking to redo one playground per budget year, he said.

“We believe that there’s going to be some great opportunities for people to get involved in our projects,” he said. “Some parks need a lot of redevelopment. Some might need a little more equipment to spruce it up.”

In addition to slides and climbing equipment at Gaffke Park, there will be rocking toys on springs, and swings, including a companion swing that will allow a caregiver and a very young child to face each other while swinging.

Councilman Chris Vitale, a member of the foreclosure committee, said that he and the late Councilman Anthony Tiseo always hoped that the funds raised from the rehabilitation of foreclosed homes would be used to improve the neighborhoods, so he thinks the playground renovations are a good idea.

The equipment will be provided by Game Time, and council members voted to raise the budgeted amount to $75,000 to be able to add at least one other spring-rocker toy to the playground, since they are popular with children.

A motion approving the purchase passed unanimously.

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