Pocket parks created

Three new recreation areas set up

This is one of three new pocket parks in the village of Big Bay. Seated in the park outside the Powell Township Town Hall are, from left, Dennis Ferraro, president of Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior; Kelsey Wermager, project coordinator for the Bay Bay Stewardship Council; and Cait Sternberg, director of outreach and communication for CSCLS. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

BIG BAY — A few splashes of color, especially when showcased in crafted cedar, are adding some special touches to the village of Big Bay.

Citizens for a Safe & Clean Lake Superior helped create three pocket parks in the village, one of them being in front of the Powell Township Town Hall along Bensinger Street.

Dennis Ferraro, president of CSCLS, said he and Cait Sternberg, director of outreach and communication for the group, watched a presentation that Michigan State University gave to the township in December, with the focus being the beautification of the village.

The township, he said, did not have the money.

However, beautification projects don’t always have to be grandiose in scale.

“One of the things they talked about was pocket parks to beautify it, just to get a start,” Ferraro said. “So, if they apply for future grants, this would be kind of a little bit of an incentive.”

He said Sternberg had some experience with flower planters, so they came up with the pocket park idea. They had help from a local woodsmith, Justin Savu of Wilson Creek Woodsmithing, who built the planters and benches.

“Cait and I got our shoes all filled with stain and finish because we finished all these,” Ferraro said.

CSCLS is actively involved in opposing the plan to use the private Granot Loma property in Powell Township as a commercial rocket launch site.

“Such an intensely industrial use would damage the ecosystem, endanger public safety, adversely impact our regional recreational- based economy, and severely degrade the quality of life for all who come to visit, recreate, work or reside near Lake Superior’s beautiful southern shore,” the group says on its website citizensforasafeandcleanlakesuperior.org.

In fact, that mission is tied in with the pocket parks.

“We wanted to give back to the community because they’ve been so gracious in supporting our effort to stop the rocket launch at Thoney Point,” Ferraro said. “So, we wanted to do something for them.”

He said CSCLS set aside some money for the parks, plus it received a small grant from the Community Foundation of Marquette County and included volunteer efforts.

Sternberg said the planters contain species native to the Upper Peninsula, acquired from a local company, Designs By Nature LLC. They include black-eyed Susan, butterflyweed, sedge and spotted beebalm.

“They look kind of small right now, but they’ll come in, and they’ll last a really long time and they’ll be really hardy here,” Sternberg said. “The planters should be really low maintenance because they don’t need to be replanted and they don’t need anything for wintering.”

Ferraro gave a shout-out to Powell Township Parks and Recreation, which laid down an aggregate base for the parks.

Another pocket park, which blends in well with an already established garden, is just up the road at St. Mary’s Catholic Church along Bensinger Street.

The smallest pocket park is at Draver Park, located along Hoffman Street, which has play equipment and a picnic structure.

The Big Bay Stewardship Council, Ferraro said, gave the group some direction on where to place the parks.

Kelsey Wermager, project coordinator for the BBSC, is pleased with the results.

“I think it’s a really cool start for the some of the projects that Big Bay is hopefully going to see in the coming years,” Wermager said. “There’s a lot of foot traffic along (County Road) 550 here, and no sidewalks.”

She pointed out that schoolchildren walk in the area, where people also walk their dogs.

“It’s really nice to have a place to kind of pull off and relax,” Wermager said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 550. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today