Greenfield has two parks that are each receiving some attention befitting their place in our town.
Felson Park is a blank canvas and the village of Greenfield is readying to wield the paintbrush.
As it is, the park is a popular place. For the past several years it has been the site of Grow Greater Greenfield’s Paddle on the Paint Creekfest, which this year is on June 1. The village, community groups, and residents have worked at beautification efforts at the park each year to keep it clean and brush and trees cut back so more of the creek can be enjoyed. The ball diamond is ready for a new season of play. A popular bike path begins at the park.
The village has plans to make the park more of an attraction and a place for more people to come and enjoy, according to Greenfield Public Service Director Gary Lewis.
For starters, a grant has been applied for that, if awarded, would allow for the expansion of the bike path to connect to Mitchell Park. But more is envisioned.
Lewis said the ultimate plans for Felson park include expansion along the creek going north under the bridge and connecting to the historical society’s Grain and Hay area; a natural playground — something able to stand up to the occasional flooding of the park when the Paint Creek rises; the addition of permanent and well-maintained restrooms; a pavilion built above the floodplain; and an amphitheater in the hillside.
He said the village envisions the pavilion having electric and being a place people could reserve for events. The amphitheater, he said, could be a place for live entertainment. Both would be constructed out of the floodplain.
According to Lewis, there has been talk of offering maybe something like a slip and slide down the hillside sometime this summer, and inviting the fire department to join in.
“The imagination can really get going when thinking about expanding the park,” Lewis said.
Developing the park would not only make the park more appealing, but the village, too, Lewis said.
“The village is exploring various funding streams as we are looking at the bigger picture to further developing Felson Park and making this vision come to life,” City Manager Todd Wilkin said.
Mitchell Park has received some needed attention in the last year beyond the recently-installed new fencing and a moved playground.
A NatureWorks Grant has allowed for the new fencing at the perimeter of the park, and Wilkin said the village will evaluate the remaining funds of the grant to determine what to put it toward, like maybe a basketball court or trails around the park.
The playground has been moved away from the public restrooms to a more central location, closer to both Hixon Field and the Daryle C. Unger Memorial Field. While there are no funds as yet for new playground equipment, it is in the plans for the future of the park, Wilkin said.
What has also been going on is volunteers with donated materials rebuilding the girls varsity dugout and currently rebuilding the back baseball diamond dugouts, according to Wilkin. And, the Greenfield School District plans to rebuild the varsity baseball field.
“The parks we have to offer in Greenfield are much more than just green space,” Wilkin said. “We have Felson Park, which has the potential to attract destination tourism, and we have Mitchell Park, which will help develop the skills necessary for a young ball player. We see individuals utilizing Paint Creek every day. People will drive multiple hours to participate in our parks and we have what many communities wish for — natural beauty.
“Playing within a park is where an entire life can be compressed into a few hours, where the emotions of a lifetime can be felt on an acre or two of ground, where a person can suffer and die and rise again on six miles of trails through the natural landscape of the fields of green. Our parks have the potential to be a theater where a common little boy can become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can be combined with the present. Greenfield’s parks have the potential to create the next opportunities our youth need to experience life in a different perspective.”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Village of Greenfield.