Community members concluded Patriarche Park playground construction on Wednesday, despite dismal weather. Volunteers have been donating their time to help complete the project since Monday, working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The park is slated to re-open in early August, officials familiar with the project said.
Although heavy rains inundated East Lansing early Wednesday afternoon, volunteers managed to finish pouring concrete shortly before the sky opened up. East Lansing’s Environmental Stewardship coordinator Heather Surface and the Rotary Club of East Lansing helped bring community members together for the project.
“It was a combined effort, it wasn’t just me,” Surface said. “The Rotary Club of East Lansing and the East Lansing staff came together.” Surface said they emailed contacts from the surrounding area including Okemos, Haslett, Mason and Lansing.
“We’ve had several organizations that came out and donated time and (then) some, even money,” Surface said. “Most of them said they would have three or four people come out and they’ve had 10 or 12 people come out, so it’s been an overwhelming show of community support.”
Jim Folkening, a member of the Rotary Club of East Lansing and on the steering committee for park construction, said accessibility was a big factor when the committee looked at rebuilding the park.
Folkening said composite materials are being used for the surrounding area so that wheelchairs and strollers can easily move around the playground. In addition to the composite materials, ramps will be installed for easier access to the park.
Volunteers have been dedicated to the project, including East Lansing High School student Edgar Vieira. Vieira has been volunteering every day this week.
“A friend of my mom is part of the committee that put this together and they told me about it,” Vieira said.
Vieira enjoyed participating in the community build because, “I got to get my hands dirty in construction,” he said.
Even though the project was planned to last through Thursday, Playground Committee chair John Saltzgaber said the playground construction was completed earlier than expected.
“It was because we had such great volunteers,” Saltzgaber said.
Folkening said that the finishing touches primarily consisted of laying out the concrete around the playground.
Although the playground has been finished, Saltzgaber said the park will not be open again until early August to allow completion of a few finishing touches, including landscaping and installing brick pavers.
Several customized, brick pavers have been purchased from community members to raise funds for the project. These brick pavers will be placed in the entryway of the park.
Now that the community build has ended, contractors will continue to install the rain garden, an awning that drains water to surrounding plants.
Committee members are looking forward to re-opening the park because of its ongoing popularity, even before the renovations began.
“It’s really been a regional park,” Folkening said. “About 35,000 people a year use it, but people see it as they drive by and it’s inviting and welcoming.”