Signs point to storytime in Sterling Heights

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 20, 2019

 Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois tries the Braille at one of the StoryWalk stations at Beaver Creek Park in Sterling Heights Sept. 17.

Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois tries the Braille at one of the StoryWalk stations at Beaver Creek Park in Sterling Heights Sept. 17.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 StoryWalk users can look forward  to eventually seeing its next featured book, “Katy No-Pocket.”

StoryWalk users can look forward to eventually seeing its next featured book, “Katy No-Pocket.”

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Residents and children who want to do a bit of outdoor reading have a new chance to do so at Beaver Creek Park, where a series of signs tell a story.

Sterling Heights city officials conducted a Sept. 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Sterling Heights Public Library StoryWalk at the park. The park and its new amenity are located near Harwood Elementary School, in a neighborhood near Ryan Road, between 14 Mile and 15 Mile roads.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said he is excited about another installation in the city’s parks.

“It’s small things that add up to something really major,” he said. “We’re in a beautiful park here, and this is something unique that I don’t think we’ve done in Sterling Heights before.”

The StoryWalk features around 20 signs installed along with a paved walkway, forming a reading path where each sign reveals a story page. Users will currently see the children’s story “The Way Back Home,” by Oliver Jeffers, on the signs. Library officials plan to swap the stories out three or four times a year with other fiction or nonfiction, and they plan to alert residents to new stories via social media.

Thanks to a state literacy enrichment program, the signs also feature Braille for visually impaired users, city officials said. Overall, the project cost around $5,970, with funds coming from the library capital budget, according to Sterling Heights city spokeswoman Melanie Davis.

City officials described how the walkway will put the joy of reading in a natural setting. They discussed how the StoryWalk follows other recent library-related placemaking amenities, such as a mural and a giant outdoor game board for chess and checkers.

Library Director Tammy Turgeon said such placemaking destinations align with the city’s 2030 Visioning Plan, which was passed in 2014. Turgeon thanked the Parks and Recreation Department for its help in making the story exhibit a reality.

“This is just a unique environment. There is no other permanent story walk in Macomb County, so we’re the first ones to have a permanent story walk,” she said.

Parks and Recreation Director Kyle Langlois said his goal is to get as many people as possible to use the parks and their related resources, and “this is just one other way that we are doing that.”

“This is just a beautiful park. I’m happy that, hopefully, a lot of people around the city will get to see this park that may not have ever known that this park was here,” Langlois said. “So it’s a great jewel here in Sterling Heights, and I’m looking forward to hearing the feedback from all of our residents.”

According to Turgeon, Sterling Heights librarian Barbara Petrowski helped arrange a temporary reading walk between the library and the police station two years ago, but that one wasn’t sturdy enough to survive long term. Petrowski reportedly was inspired after reading about a woman, Anne Ferguson, who created such a walk for a Vermont library. Ferguson now owns the “StoryWalk” registered service mark.

A second reading path is in the planning stages for Sterling Heights, city officials added.

Find out more about Beaver Creek Park, 34100 King Richard Drive in Sterling Heights, by visiting myshpr.net or by calling (586) 446-2700. Learn about the Sterling Heights Public Library by visiting shpl.net or by calling (586) 446-2665.

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