BY VON LOZON
The city of Trenton will soon see a local park undergo positive changes after not seeing improvements for several years.
MacArthur Park, located behind the West Road Happy’s Pizza, will receive upgrades thanks to a $57,000 grant secured by the Trenton’s Parks and Recreation department specifically for the project.
Joann Gonyea, director of Parks and Recreation, said the project has three phases but the Wayne County parks millage-funded grant will only be used for the first phase.
“It’s been approved by our council, but we are awaiting the final signature from the Wayne County Commission,” Gonyea said. “Once that gets back we will be able to move forward with the plans.”
Phase 1 includes the creation of a nature-based play area, with sitting logs and a swing set, among other things, Gonyea said. The swing set will more than likely be the only traditional play scape. Different kinds of plants and natural habitats such as butterfly gardens are also a part of the first phase of the masterplan.
“Our goal was to make it a nature-based play area,” Gonyea said. “It’s not your typical playscape kind of thing. It’s going to be more open space, open green space where kids can play. That was our vision for that park. We really are looking at how to make our park system more sustainable.”
The Parks and Recreation Department will be doing some “minor things” this fall to prepare for the first phase of the master plan, which will take place next spring. Some of those minor things include moving and replanting trees in the area and putting in soil.
“We’ll have the winter to really finalize the plans, bid the project out, and then in the spring you will see some work being done over there to start the project,” Gonyea said.
Phase 2 includes the installation of other plantings such as lavender, shrubs, native wildflower plantings, evergreen tree plantings and more, while phase three will see the “little player’s stage” and construction garden come to life. The stage will be a decomposed granite surface and the construction garden also features decomposed granite and will be surrounded by boulders of various sizes. There is no estimated date to begin phases 2 and 3.
The former equipment at the park was deemed antiquated and had to be removed for safety purposes, according to Gonyea. At that time, there were no plans to replace the equipment because the department did not have the funds to make that possible. That is where the three-phase plan came to life.
Gonyea said some residents who live in the area were concerned that nothing would ever come of the park because it had been neglected for so long. But she introduced the Adopt-A-Park Program to the nearby residents and all those doubts vanished.
“We encourage the neighborhood to come together and adopt the park where they kind of take ownership for it and help out with maintaining certain things,” Gonyea said. “So (one of the residents) and I spoke about it and she got really excited about it and she did research on nature-based play areas. She got some of the other neighbors together and they put in an application to adopt the park and put in a proposal to what they want to see at the park.”
The master plan will not be complete for some time, but Gonyea is already looking forward to seeing the project bloom.
“I’m excited about it,” she said. “It’s going to be a really nice addition to that neighborhood and to the whole city.”