In the lively atmosphere of The Livery in downtown Benton Harbor, the community gathered to see and celebrate the final PlacePlan for Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park on Oct. 22. Many in the crowd had participated in the three previous Square 1 design workshops, so they were anxious to see how all their ideas had been translated into the design.
Mindful of the community’s desires for a park that was both inviting and easy to maintain, the MSU designers added some elements and removed others from the plan presented in August. Creative lighting, public art, a permanent space for the Benton Harbor Farmer’s Market, and a permanent stage for events such as the annual Coming Home Coming Together Concert all made it into the final rendering. Other items that would be more costly to maintain, such as a splash pad and ice rink, made an exit stage left.
To help move the park design toward implementation, the League’s Richard Murphy presented a variety of potential funding mechanisms. Crowdfunding is one possibility. Grant programs through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are other options.
The design plans are now being turned over to the Benton Harbor Parks Conservancy, which will be responsible for helping those plans become reality. “We can’t do it without your help,” said Benton Harbor Parks Conservancy president Stephannie Harvey-Vandenberg to the crowd. The community seemed enthusiastically ready to offer their support. Signatures quickly filled a large banner with the new hashtag #BelieveinBH. And small posters were emblazoned with residents’ hopes for the community they love.
We fully expect to see great things happen at Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park!