A new, accessible tot lot will be opening this month at Chene-Trombley Park in Grosse Pointe Woods.

A new, accessible tot lot will be opening this month at Chene-Trombley Park in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

Public grand opening scheduled for new Grosse Pointe Woods tot lot

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 10, 2023


GROSSE POINTE WOODS — A popular neighborhood park in Grosse Pointe Woods will soon be reopening with new play equipment that will keep a wider range of little ones active.

Chene-Trombley Park, located on Ridgemont Road near Mack Avenue, was closed this summer as the existing playscape was renovated and a new, accessible tot lot was added, as well as restrooms and a walking path.

There will be a grand opening and rededication ceremony for the renovated playscape and the new Phyllis A. DeMars Tot Lot and Swing Set from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 21 that’s open to the public. A DJ, the Treat Dreams Dream Machine food truck, Kindness Rock Garden rock painting and bubble wands will be among the attractions that day, along with the Woods Public Safety Department’s ladder truck.

Mayor Arthur Bryant said there had only been one piece of equipment at the park — a large playscape enjoyed by somewhat older children. He said the Citizens’ Recreation Commission recognized that the park could use some improvements.

“It needed some stuff for small kids,” Bryant said.

The tot lot now includes a swing set with a “friendship swing” where two friends can sit facing each other, or a parent and child can swing together. There’s also a merry-go-round that can be used by someone using a wheelchair, and a sandbox with digging tools where kids can look for “fossils.”

“It’s incredible,” Assistant City Administrator Susan Como said. “The park now has a beautiful tot lot for children with special needs. We don’t have anything like that in the area.”

Bryant said there will also be tables and chairs underneath sail-like canopies where visitors can sit while youngsters enjoy the play equipment.

The nonprofit Grosse Pointe Woods Foundation played an important role in fundraising for this project, as did a couple of local families.

One of Phyllis DeMars’ children, Greg DeMars, of Grosse Pointe Woods, said he knew he needed to support this project when he heard about it.

Phyllis DeMars, who died in February 2022, spent most of her life in Grosse Pointe Woods. She had been a special education teacher at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic school in Harper Woods and Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic school in Grosse Pointe Woods.

“She devoted her life to teaching and to kids,” Greg DeMars said. “She loved kids. … (This) struck me as a project she would have loved.”

Of his mother’s eight grandchildren, five live in Grosse Pointe Woods and are age 5 and under, he said. DeMars said his mother has 10 great-nieces ages 5 and younger who also live in the Woods. They’ll all be able to enjoy this park, along with other kids in the area.

“We wanted this park to be of benefit to the community,” DeMars said.

His mother’s maiden name was Cracchiolo, so between the DeMars and Cracchiolo families and their friends, Greg DeMars said they were able to raise about $200,000 toward this project.

“The park looks beautiful,” DeMars said. “The city did a great job with the park. They were great to work with.”

The total project cost more than $561,000.

Original bids had been as high as almost twice the anticipated cost, but City Administrator Frank Schulte and the Public Services Department — led by Director Jim Kowalski — brought those in line by talking to known local contractors to see if they could do the work at a lower price. In addition, Schulte said the city’s Department of Public Works staff did some of the work to save money.

The city is covering any costs not covered by donations.

“It’s so colorful,” Bryant said of the park today. “It’s really bright and cheery.”

Bryant said the park itself is named for Hattie Chene, who donated the land to the city in the late 1930s with the provision that it be used as a park in perpetuity.