Facelift coming to local park, one family reflects

Facelift coming to local park, one family reflects

Clarkston News Editor

As is the case with most things, age eventually takes its toll.
That is true with Bay Court Park, which will soon see its 26-year-old playscape replaced by a new, modernized version.
The current wooden structure has deteriorated to the point that it is becoming unsafe for play, and the structure does not meet the National Recreation and Park Association’s certified playground safety inspector standards for safe play.
The new structure will have all the benefits of the old one in the peaceful surroundings of Bay Court Park and included will be ADA-compliant features to enable children of all abilities to play. It will also have upgraded play features that will blend with the natural aesthetics of the park.
The new structure will also include new tables, benches, ADA-compliant parking spaces and walkways.
Patrick Burdick and his mother, Rita Burdick, who has lived in Clarkston for 53 years and worked for Independence Township as the deputy supervisor from August 1982 until retiring in July 2005, helped build the first playscape along with many other volunteers.
And while they are sad to see the structure go, they know it is the right time.
“Building the playscape was rewarding with the help of my mother and many other local residents all put together by the Dream Builders Committee,” said Burdick, who graduated from Clarkston High School in 1979 and now lives in Rochester Hills. “Many are still very close friends with my mother and I. My most recent memory of Bay Court Park – and my favorite – is from a few weeks ago when we visited Bay Court Park and walked around the structure with my mom and my daughter, Kelly. Seeing all of the names brought out many memories and stories.
“Seems like yesterday and it’s now 26 years later. Just seeing all of the names of people who donated and volunteered on the plaque and to see all of the names that were etched into the wooden 2-by-4 boards that supported much of the structure.”

Kelly Burdick and her grandmother, Rita Burdick, enjoy quality bonding time during a recent visit to Bay Court Park. Photo provided

The 2-by-4s and names required a donation to the project, and the Burdicks have spoken to a few of their friends who want to salvage the boards to keep the memories alive.
Independence Township Director of Parks, Recreation and Seniors Derek Smith and his team will make this possible, as he soon will have his staff remove all planks and give those who are interested an opportunity to come and pick one up.
“I will be gathering a few for my daughter, Lindsay, for my niece, Carina, for a friend who now lives in Florida, and for an old childhood neighbor who lost his young daughter to cancer,” Burdick said.
Funding for the new playscape was recently approved by the Independence Township Board of Trustees.
Smith explained that his department’s capital improvement plan included $200,000 for the playground replacement. The department then leveraged that money and applied for a 50 percent matching grant for another $200,000 from the United States Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition (LWCF), making the total cost of the project $400,000.
“Due to COVID, the LWCF is backed up on sending out the project agreements,” said Smith. “No work can be done for grant reimbursement until the agreement is signed by both parties. The LWCF is hoping to have them mailed in January, and construction will hopefully start next fall.”
Smith also noted a happy twist to the funding.
“We will be launching a fundraising campaign for additional funding, as we have an anonymous donor who is willing to match dollar for dollar whatever we raise,” he said.

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