City park project deserves input from citizens

Marquette is home to one of the finest city parks in the region, and has hosted residents and visitors since even before the city acquired the property in 1886.

Since then, it has been preserved in the manner that famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted envisioned it would after visiting the 323-acre tract in 1891, saying : “A park on this site can have certain natural advantages possessed by no other that I have seen.”

Not a bad assessment of the property by the man who designed New York City’s Central Park.

Developments have been limited and pretty much followed the recommendation of Olmsted to keep the park as natural as possible.

The few facilities that have been built at the park are mostly concentrated near the entrance, with the interior and majority of shoreline left in its natural state.

This appears to be the same philosophy going into the next project planned at “The Island,” which involves replacing the aged playground area with a modern, setting-appropriate play area.

The Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee has been working with U.P. Engineers & Architects since October to develop plans for the playground.

At 6 p.m. today, the committee and UPEA will be presenting those plans to the public at the Marquette Commons building on South Third Street.

Committee Chairman Bob Chapman said the panel’s goal is to oversee development of a playground that will be accessible to all kids, regardless of physical ability.

In addition the committee worked hard to develop a playground that fits into the natural setting of the park. It will most likely be situated between the Island store and the MooseWood Nature Center building. Included will be parking improvements, gateways, fencing, seating and viewing areas and landscaping.

This evening’s meeting is an opportunity for citizens to not only get a close look at the plans, but to offer comments on the project. This is the second and most likely last meeting on the project before the committee presents the plans to the city commission.

With the commission’s OK, the committee can launch a fundraising campaign to make the roughly $300,000 project a reality.

With the project shifting out of the planning stages into the doing stage, we encourage all Marquette citizens with an interest in their wonderful park to attend today’s meeting and offer advice.