Music, maintenance on summer plans for parks

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — City officials are hoping for sweet music in one local park this summer, along with renewed efforts to restore other recreational areas that have fallen into disrepair.

Mayor Patricia Diaz Krause said that, along with complaints about blight and neglected neighborhoods, among the most common complaints she’s heard since taking office last year have been about the condition of the city’s parks.

“I’m tired of hearing residents say they want to use the parks but can’t because things are broken,” Diaz Krause said. Most — but not all — of the city’s open spaces are in need of both clean-up efforts and maintenance. Broken bottles, equipment that no longer works and unusable tennis courts have turned open-air opportunities into little more than eyesores, Diaz Krause said.

“I get complaints and emails constantly,” Diaz Krause said. “One of the reasons people decide to live in a particular city is the recreation facilities.”

There are, however, bright spots among the blight. A community group of volunteers last week painted the band shell in Memorial Park and weeded the grounds, in part to prepare for the Wednesday, June 27 kickoff of the summer concert series there.

Diaz Krause said that this year’s lineup of entertainment will begin with a rather high-profile act, WDIV Channel 4 news anchor Devin Scillian, whose country music background includes two CDs worth of songs.

“I saw him perform somewhere last year,” Diaz Krause said. “I thought he was good, the band was really good so when I took office I called and they said yes.”

Scillian, a children’s author and musician in addition to his evening anchoring duties, will perform with his band the Arizona Son beginning at 7:30 p.m., sponsored by Grand Sakwa Properties and McKenna Associates.

The summer concert series at Memorial Park on London Avenue continues the next evening, June 28, and will be held each Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m., offering free music ranging from big band and Americana sounds to country and classic rock. Visitors are asked to bring a blanket or lawn chair as no seating is available.

The concert series, Diaz Krause said, is a bright light on the city’s park picture, one that needs some extra effort and assistance. A study session is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at city hall to review park operations with an emphasis on restoration before seeking program ideas.

“We have some parks that have safety issues,” Diaz Krause said. “Maintenance of the parks has not been an ongoing thing over the years and it’s very apparent when you look at them. We need an ongoing maintenance program.”

Diaz Krause said that Lincoln Park, as with most Downriver communities, has suffered tighter budgets in recent years that left park and recreation programs vulnerable to reduction or elimination.

“I understand the money issue,” Diaz Krause said. “I just think a lot of these things could be addressed.”

Diaz Krause said that the issue is not new, and that previous administrations have considered the problem.

“Every now and again someone goes around and does an analysis and tells us the same thing,” Diaz Krause said. “We don’t need another analysis: We need to know what we are going to do about it.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)