BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
A $100,000 dream is in the works for Depot Park, but time is short.
“It’s a neighborhood labor of love to raise about half of it by March 1,” said Eric Haven, Clarkston mayor and member of Friends of Depot Park.
Their goal is to raise $50,000 in donations, pledges, and volunteer labor, then seek a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant for the other half.
“There are many ways people can support this,” Haven said. “It would show the state we’re serious about moving ahead with the park.”
They’ll prepare a grant application based on the community’s response starting March 1. Community outreach will cost about $1,000, and grant writing by Carlisle Wortman will be $5,000. Half of the $6,000 cost will come from the Friends of Depot Park budget, and the other half from Depot Park donations.
“Depot Park is a place for recreation education, inspiration, commemoration, and repose for all generations,” Haven said. “It’s a natural place with the Clinton River and Mill Race running through it, with two beautiful bridges. It has a beauty characterized by its natural plantings, rain gardens, river bank, raised gardens tended by Tom Lowrie and master gardeners; a place for young families during the day, evening walks, and events in the summer. Its desirability is evidenced by the attendance we have here, not just from the village. People from all around come to Clarkston to be in the park.”
The campaign is part of a years-long effort to upgrade and improve Depot Park, said City Manager Jonathan Smith.
Last year, the Friends and Clarkston Area Optimists Club replaced the old wood-framed tire swing with a steel-framed tire swing, installed a new rotating swing called a “cozy cocoon,” especially designed for autistic children, and put in a new Tot Swing and Geo Climber. Clarkston Girl Scout Emily Herrmann joined in to help install a xylophone and musical flowers, Smith said.
“This instrument represents a new direction in playground enhancements for children with varying degrees of ability and is wheelchair accessible,” Haven said. “If well received, the xylophone, called the ‘Serenade,’ is just the beginning of other percussion instruments the Friends of Depot Park would like to install into an exclusive Harmony District.”
The train and truck play pieces were also stripped and recoated by Android Industries of Flint, and Clarkston Cultural Arts artists Denyse Couture and Dana Blust created intricate and ornate artwork for them.
This year’s effort includes replacing the large wood-framed climbing structure and slide with a new structure costing $40,000. The Optimists have donated $10,000 towards this goal and are seeking donations for the remaining $30K via a Go Fund Me Page, which would go through the nonprofit Optimists to be tax deductible.
Other goals this year include paved, ADA-compliant pathways, permanent public restrooms, amphitheater, covered pavilions, ambient lighting and sound, and a boardwalk to Middle Lake.
The 35-acre Depot Park is the largest single property in the City of the Village of Clarkston, making up over 10 percent of the its total area.
About 30 acres are wetlands, bounded by the Clinton River to the southeast, and is split lengthwise by a mill race running from Mill Pond to Middle Lake.
BY PHIL CUSTODIO