Recreation and Parks, plus partners, strengthened quality of life in Dearborn in 2012

DEARBORN – The array of local recreational and cultural arts programming was enriched in 2012 through partnerships with volunteers and funding agents.

Severstal North America worked with the Dearborn Recreation and Parks Department and the non-profit Dearborn Community Fund to create a new playscape at Morningside Park.

Severstal’s $15,000 donation for the playscape included $8,450 raised by employees through raffle ticket sales at the company’s 2011 fall open house. The company itself contributed an additional $6,550 to fund the purchase of the playground equipment, which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Funding for the expansion of the 2.6-mile Rouge River Gateway Trail was secured in 2012. A $301,000 grant from Michigan Department of Transportation and a $280,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund will be added to the city’s $278,000 contribution to expand the trail, which is used by thousands of walkers and bicyclists.

The extension will connect the existing trailhead, located just west of Evergreen on Michigan Avenue, to the sidewalks and bike lanes on Brady Street and, ultimately, to Ford Field Park and Cherry Hill Road.

It travels through natural areas and the campuses of the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford Community College.

State monies were also confirmed to create a new non-motorized trail extension at Camp Dearborn.

The  MNRTF grant provides $268,000 for the project and the city will contribute $115, 200. The 8-foot-wide non-motorized asphalt trail will start near Camp Dearborn’s main beach and include a 70-foot steel truss bridge across the Huron River, a handicap-accessible fishing platform and kayak launch. It will also link Camp Dearborn to Kensington Metropark and its network of trails.

A Wayne County Parks Allocation Millage obtained in 2012 will help renew Ford Field Park tennis courts and create a wading pool spray park feature at Levagood Park’s Dunworth Pool. The commitment from Wayne County for the two projects is $137,000, with $90,000 for Ford Field Park and $47,000 for Dunworth Pool.

Special events helped the city celebrate

Hundreds of Dearborn residents celebrated the 70th anniversary of the pool at Levagood Park in August with a free concert, hot dogs and cake. When constructed, it was the first of its kind city outdoor pool.

The Recreation and Parks Department was instrumental in the success of popular events such as Homecoming, The Wall That Heals (Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial) and the Martian Marathon.

Recreation also supported the West Dearborn Downtown Development Authority’s Oktoberfest and outdoor summer concerts, the Dearborn Area Chamber of Commerce’s three food truck rallies and its weekly seasonal Farm Market; and the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority’s popular Jazz on the Ave.

The center attracted those looking to stay in shape, and enjoy a show

Thousands of passholders and visitors swam, worked out, climbed the rock wall, attended birthday parties, played basketball, and enjoyed a variety of traditional and new fitness classes at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

In addition, the center continued to attract world class professional entertainment to the Michael A. Guido Theater, as well as local and regional performers. A new weekend comedy club was started inside Studio A in late 2012.

In 2012, the center hosted the Festival of Trees to benefit Children’s Hospital of Michigan, American Cancer Society’s 24-hour Relay For Life, the Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes and other special activities.

Other favorite activities returned to the center for residents’ viewing and listening pleasure, as well as the development of their talent:  The Summer Festival Chorus, Dearborn Youth Theater, Dearborn Community Chorus,  Summer Arts Experience, Missoula Children’s Theatre and Children’s Summer Art Classes.

Parks continue to serve families

Of the 42 parks located in Dearborn, 17 offered free summer programs for youngsters and The Center once again held eight, one-week summer day camps.

            Camp Dearborn continued to serve families in old and new ways.

In June, the city opened eight resort cabins to give camp-goers a modern take on relaxation. Overlooking the paddle boat lake, the eight resort cabins attracted an 83 percent occupancy rate in their inaugural year.

They sleep six and include a full bathroom with shower, ceiling fan, garbage disposal, detached kitchen unit with microwave, picnic table, grill and firepit.

Nonprofit partnerships are important

To ensure success in leisure activities, the city partners with the following volunteer run sports and cultural organizations: Dearborn Baseball, Dolphins Swim Team, Dearborn Soccer Club, Metro Basketball Association, Dearborn Hockey Association, Dearborn Figure Skating Club, Dearborn Lions Youth Football and Cheerleading Association, Dearborn Symphony, Dearborn Youth Symphony, Vanguard Voices and Brass, Dearborn Community Arts Council, Motor City Brass Band and VSA of Michigan.

Another partner is the Dearborn Community Fund, which raises money and organizes volunteer support for arts, cultural and recreational programs that enhance the quality of life in Dearborn. The DCF has taken a lead role in the operation of the annual Homecoming festival.

In addition, the DCF has presented the Midwest Sculpture Initiative, which places art in public places around town.

Senior citizens also served

The Senior Services Division hosted thousands of visits to special events, exercise and service programs, including the popular Senior Health and Information Expo. It provided vital transportation through the SMART Senior Transportation program to seniors in Dearborn.