CGI mockup shows the new playscape at Civic Center Park. At press time, the city of Madison Heights was installing the structure near the parking lot of Fire Station No. 1. A $70,000 grant helped defray the cost of the structure, which replaces one from the early 2000s.

CGI mockup shows the new playscape at Civic Center Park. At press time, the city of Madison Heights was installing the structure near the parking lot of Fire Station No. 1. A $70,000 grant helped defray the cost of the structure, which replaces one from the early 2000s.

Photo provided by the city of Madison Heights

New playscape installed at Civic Center Park

Madison Heights continues to invest in recreational spaces

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison-Park News | Published June 28, 2023


MADISON HEIGHTS — Civic Center Park has a shiny new playscape, made possible with a $70,000 grant, and it’s just the latest in a series of carefully considered purchases for the parks.

The new structure features a variety of slides, ladders and steppingstones, and adds a splash of color to the park with its green canopies, red posts, blue platforms and bright yellow bars.

The park is located at 360 W. 13 Mile Road. The playscape is near the parking lot of Fire Station No. 1 and the Madison Heights Police Department.

The structure replaces a deteriorating one that dates back to the early 2000s, well past its service life.

To fund it, the city secured a $70,000 grant through Game Time, based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city applied for the grant in June 2022, and received it in August. For its part, the city still paid more than $174,000.

According to Adam Owczarzak, assistant to the city manager of Madison Heights, there have been other additions to Civic Center Park in recent years, ranging from a playscape for toddlers, to rain gardens and two new pavilion roofs.

Elsewhere in the city, there have been other projects, big and small, such as the installation of a new disc golf course at Rosie’s Park, and the exercise equipment at Huffman Park’s Fitness Court, as well as a new drinking fountain at Edison Park — with plans to add another at Wildwood Park — and new playscapes at Rosie’s Park and Edison Park, which incorporate modern safety and accessibility standards.

And there’s more to come, with the city’s five-year capital improvement plan outlining other projects for the fiscal year beginning July 1. These include renovations for the basketball court at Civic Center Park, the backstop and ballfield at Rosie’s Park, the parking lots at Edison Park and Rosie’s Park, the pavilion at Rosie’s Park and the irrigation system at Huffman Park.

Mark Bliss, the mayor pro tem, marveled at how much work the city has done in the parks during the last decade.

“It has been quite the paradigm shift. Even that particular playscape at Civic Center, when I first joined council (in 2013), it was already aging, but back then, it was still one of the new structures. Up until around 2013-15, we were putting in a new playscape maybe once every 10 years. But now we’ve been putting in a new playscape almost every year,” Bliss said.

“And I can’t take all the credit for changing that,” he added. “With Melissa Marsh’s leadership as the city manager, we came to an agreement on the City Council that we were going to prioritize investments into our park system, and that we would do it as smart as possible by partnering up and taking advantage of these grant opportunities.”

Madison Heights City Councilwoman Emily Rohrbach said that the improvements to the parks have been a hallmark of the last four years of the City Council.

“We have sought improvement for our residents in not only our parks, but our libraries, city services and public works,” Rohrbach said via email. “With the addition of the newest improvement at Civic Center Park — coupled with the opening of our new Civic Center Plaza — when people come to this city, they will know we are a place that values our residents, our environment, and our ability to serve those who live, work and play in our city.”

Councilmember Quinn Wright described the new playscape as a tangible result of what was a collaborative process.

“These types of investments in our parks are the reason I ran for office,” he said. “I personally cannot wait to take my kids to the new playscape.”

Roslyn Grafstein, the mayor, said in an email that it’s important to update park amenities so that they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Everyone I talk to wants to see options for residents of all abilities in the parks. I have heard great things about the new disc golf course at Rosie’s, and I know a few people who now work from home that go over to take breaks there, and play the course during the day,” she said. “With more people working from home, either full time or part time, it’s important that we have more areas for them to take breaks and get some fresh air. As we continue to upgrade our parks, I’m seeing more and more of our residents taking advantage of these new amenities.”

Councilmember David Soltis agreed.

“I’m happy to see the parks being modernized,” Soltis said. “They’re a real attraction for our families and kids.”

Councilmember Sean Fleming said he likes the changes so far, but he feels the city can take additional steps to reduce barriers around play structures.

“For example, there are currently barriers around the wood chips under the playscapes, so it can be difficult to roll wheelchairs up to them. I think details like that are something we can improve — lowering that trim, and maybe even replacing the wood chips with a flat surface, like a flexible rubber material to absorb the impact of falls,” Fleming said. “I just want us to do all that we can to make our play structures accessible for all.”