Several years ago, the Friends agreed to fund the development of a modest outdoor park-like area at the Cascade library, as a place for children and families to come together for fun and relaxation.
But, they had no idea where that “modest” idea would lead to today, with additional funding provided by the Downtown Development Authority and a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, along with a commitment from the township to maintain and service what they will be calling “Friendship Park,” according to Joe David, Friends president.
“Our Friends volunteers have worked incredibly hard for many years to raise the money for this initiative,” he said. “So, it’s very rewarding and exciting to see how it has grown and to see it finally coming to fruition.
In addition to helping finance the park, the Friends are also answering the call to provide support by volunteers to handle some of the more basic tasks in preparation for the development of the site, starting with a bit of “gardening” to remove invasive plant species from the wooded area around the park on October 28.
“I want to thank Beth Van Over, Charles Bell, Denise Bell, Doug Parker, Leslie Parker, Karen Olson, Rachel Vandenbrek and Vicki VanHuizen for sharing their time and gardening talents to unofficially begin development of the site,” David said.
“They demonstrated that our commitment to the park is more than just financial,” David said. “We want to do whatever we can to ensure that the park becomes and remains a vital and vibrant gathering place for concerts, nature walks, picnics, contemplation, events and more.”
That commitment from the Friends hasn’t gone unnoticed by library and township staff, according to Lulu Brown, regional manager. “When I proposed to the township that they designate our facility an official park and that they name it ‘Friendship Park,’ I had the Friends in mind all the time,” she said. “The name both acknowledges the critical role they have had in making it possible and the essence of what we hope the park will be for the community: a place for friendship to prosper.”
While many people are already juggling numerous plans and designs behind the scene—including a beautiful pavilion between the library and 28th Street--activities will move out more into public view on November 6 with groundbreaking ceremonies at 10 am at the library.
“We’re anxious to start seeing the physical improvements to the grounds,” Brown said, “because the sooner we do, the sooner we’ll all be able to enjoy the park in the spring.”
These volunteers got things started by removing invasive plant species from the park area.