Almost there

Marquette park improvements coming to fruition

Part of an abstract sculpture is put into place along the Iron Ore Heritage Trail near Father Marquette Park in the city of Marquette Monday. The park is the site of a major improvement project, which includes the installation of benches and flowers. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — The Father Marquette Park project is beginning to take shape.

The Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee Inc., has worked to beautify two areas at the park, located along South Front Street by Baraga Avenue. One is the scenic overlook, now called the Karl G. Zueger Scenic Overlook, named after the former community services director for the city of Marquette.

The other is Tami’s Garden, named after the late MBRC president, Tami Dawidowski.

Zueger worked directly with the beautification committee on the Father Marquette Park improvement project, which received a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant of $140,000. The committee then raised $60,000 in local matching funds for the project.

On Monday, a large stone sculpture began to be placed at the park, which is near the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

Its artist, Ryan Brayak, who lives in Marquette but has a shop in Escanaba, said the sculpture will be placed at an entranceway to the park, which already has a 20-foot bronze statue of missionary Father Jacques Marquette.

The new abstract sculpture has an appropriate theme for the region.

“If you looked at a side profile, it’s like if you took a canoe and you stood it up on end,” Brayak said.

The sculpture also has cutouts of the Great Lakes, he said, and later this week little canoe shapes that show Father Marquette’s journey through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River will be installed.

MBRC Vice President Barb Kelly spent part of Monday watering the new perennials and annuals at Tami’s Garden.

“She worked so hard on this park,” Kelly said of Dawidowski.

She asked the Dawidowski family how it felt about having a garden in Father Marquette Park in her memory, and then having memorial funds to go toward her garden.

The entire family liked the idea, she said.

“A considerable amount of money was donated for this garden, which our committee used to pay for the garden,” said Kelly, who designed the site.

In fact, some of Dawidowski’s favorite flowers, such as white peonies, have been planted there, she said. Flowering shrubs also are part of the landscape.

Employees of Kelly’s design company, Flourishes LLC, installed the plants as paid workers for the MBRC, although Kelly donated her time.

One of the MBRC’s most noticeable projects is Petunia Pandemonium, in which flowers are planted along South Front Street and nearby.

The gardens basically stopped by the Lake Superior Community Partnership, Kelly said. However, that will change with the new project since the added plants will add some continuity and a contiguous flow.

“We’re trying to unify the park with flowers,” said Kelly, who noted the MBRC added an irrigation system so part of the park, including Tami’s Garden, will receive water this way.

“We intend to take care of this garden,” Kelly said. “We’re not turning the garden over to the city.”

Funding the new sculpture, benches and signage was the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority, which donated $25,000 for the project, said IOHRA Administrator Carol Fulsher.

“I think it will be another spot where they get off their bikes and go for a walk and get a piece of history,” Fulsher said.

The park landscape, of course, will change over the years.

“It’ll get bigger and bushier, and every year, there will need to be fewer annuals,” Kelly said.

The Father Marquette Park project will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Sunday, with an ice cream social to follow at the Hampton Inn. The MBRC also is celebrating its 40th anniversary.