ACCESS TO RECREATION (A2R) INITIATIVE
In October of 2006, the Greenville Area Community Foundation was awarded a $440,000 grant to develop Greenville’s key natural and recreational assets—the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail tunnel, Baldwin Lake Public Beach, and Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See park. Greenville’s Circle of Adventure project was one of the first to be funded under a statewide Access to Recreation (A2R) grant program for community foundations. The grant came from Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures to promote universal access to recreation for all people, of all abilities, and was part of a $15 million initiative funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support parks and recreation enhancement in Michigan. The A2R Circle of Adventure project brings together the city’s history, culture, and natural resources to promote healthful recreation.
CIRCLE OF ADVENTURE FRED MEIJER FLAT RIVER TRAIL TUNNEL MINI-MUSEUM
The centerpiece of the A2R Circle of Adventure project and key universally accessible adventure is the underground mini-museum on the walls of the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail tunnel running under M-57 on the west side of Greenville. The tunnel features a historical timeline that depicts the Greenville area. The eras include our Icy Past, our Early Ages, our Immigrant period and Now. It’s all connected by handmade and painted clay tiles that depict the Flat River. Artifacts from local archeological digs conducted by Cranbrook Institute of Science are showcased as are other items from the Flat River Historical Museum and the Fighting Falcon Military Museum. Artists of all ages volunteered their interpretation and talent by creating clay tiles that depict each of the four eras. It was dedicated in September of 2011 and was the culmination of almost two years of brainstorming meetings and creative efforts. Strong partnerships were developed with the general contractor for the tunnel itself as input into the infrastructure of the underground walkway were necessary so the logistics of installing the museum quality panels were considered from the beginning. Welch Tile & Granite, the tile contractor, received an award for their efforts to secure the handmade and quite irregular pieces.
Also, the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail, which is a nine-mile barrier-free, paved trail and boardwalk that encircles the City of Greenville and winds along the Flat River on the city’s east and north sides – will be enhanced with signage that highlights the area’s natural resources, culture, and history, and will incorporate navigational aids for healthful recreation. The mini-museum in the tunnel was dedicated to the community on September 20, 2011.
The A2R Circle of Adventure project also enhanced and expanded two recreation destinations within the city—Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See Park and Baldwin Lake Public Beach as universally accessible recreation sites. A ribbon cutting was held at both sites on July 27, 2010.
The 19.2 acre Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See site, now primarily a summer camp serving individuals with disabilities, was developed into a more park-like facility by replacing wood-tiered paths with barrier free trails for access to Baldwin Lake and the Fred Meijer Flat River Trail. In the camp area the dirt and wood chip paths that interconnect the tent platform sites with each other, the restroom/shower facility and the lodge/parking area were paved. A new universally accessible playscape was also designed and installed by community volunteers on the lower level of the Camp/Park area and is available for use year round. Additional funding was needed to add to grant funds for the paved access to Baldwin Lake, as well as, for the new playscape. Grants were received from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Home Depot, as well as the Lena & Fred Meijer Trail Fund and the Ray & Mary Tower Family Fund, both endowments housed at the Greenville Area Community Foundation.
The public beach at Baldwin Lake was developed into a universally accessible recreation venue by improving the parking lot which included adding a sidewalk between the beach and parking area. And, unique to public beaches anywhere, was the installation of a one-of-a kind barrier free access ramp with railings which allows people of all ages and abilities to enter the water. So now someone with a wheelchair or walker, for instance, can maneuver on the sidewalks to the ramp, place themselves on the bench and lower themselves into the water by moving from step to step sitting down. The improvements for the parking area and new trail head were done in partnership with a grant the City of Greenville received from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources.
A2R COMMUNITY PARTNERS
The GACF worked with the City of Greenville and key community partners to complete the recreation accessibility projects. LIFE Therapeutic Solutions were consultants on the work at Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See and Baldwin Lake Beach.
The tunnel museum project was managed by Larry Hutchinson of Hutchinson Studios with help from Dr. Michael Stafford of Cranbrook Institute of Science and local historians Elsie McNeil of the Flat River Historical Museum and Bill Delp of the Fighting Falcon Military Museum. Clay tile artists included art students from Greenville Public Schools (all levels) and Montcalm Community College’s Art Department along with members of the Montcalm Area Artist Association and other volunteers from the community.
A2R ENDOWMENT FUND
In addition to enhancing recreation sites, the Circle of Adventure grant helped with the establishment of a permanent endowment fund to support ongoing access to recreation work. This was a matching grant opportunity for the area and with the support of many local citizens; grants from the endowment will be available to provide maintenance for the current Circle of Adventure sites as well as any new projects that are driven by the concept of universal accessible design. An Advisory Committee for the endowment fund will be established to help guide the GACF Board of Trustees in their future grant-making.
ACCESS TO RECREATION CIRCLE OF ADVENTURE COMMUNITY PARTNER COMMITTEE
A2R ENDOWMENT FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE
From the Greenville Area Community Foundation – Trustee Bill Braman and Program Administrator Amy O’Brien. From the Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See Board – Dennis Leach, Linda Stafford and Barb Christensen. From the City of Greenville – Kris Berry, Greenville’s Recreation Director.
CAMP WAH-WAH-TAY-SEE PARK PLAYSCAPE DESIGN COMMITTEE
Cindy Burkhour – A2R Advisor, LIFE Therapeutic Solutions: Kristine Kading, Chris Matzke, Angie Fenlon, Bob & Heather Hemmingsen – Camp WWTS Directors, Camp WWTS staff, Doug Hinken, Mike Chesher, Kris Berry – City of Greenville, Roger Coles, Barb Christensen – Camp WWTS Board, Linda VanHouten – Greenville Public Schools, Amy O’Brien – GACF and Sinclair Recreation.
CAMP WAH-WAH-TAY-SEE / BALDWIN LAKE BEACH RIBBON CUTTING VOLUNTEERS
Mayor Ken Snow, Doug Hinken, LIFE Therapeutic Solutions: Kristine Kading, Chris Matzke, Angie Fenlon, Cindy Burkhour, Bob & Heather Hemmingsen and the Camp Wah-Wah-Tay-See staff, Linda Schink, Dotti Rackliffe, Lynn Cooper, Skeet Slocum, Cathy Cornell, Lori Cushman, Jenny Cushman, Amy O’Brien, Sean O’Brien, Megan O’Brien, Torrey Davis and Sally Marshall.
FRED MEIJER FLAT RIVER TRAIL TUNNEL MUSEUM ARTIST COMMITTEE
Larry Hutchinson of Hutchinson Studio, Mike Stafford – Director Cranbrook Institute of Science and Doug Hinken – City of Greenville Engineer.
Our Artists Committee:
Greenville Public Schools – the elementary, middle and high school ceramics students with oversight by teachers September Buys Reckner, Sonja Peterson, Jamie Munch, Kathy McQuillan, Linda Schink Coles, Frances Hull, and Michele Reille.
Montcalm Community College – Dr. Gary Hauck, Dean of Instruction & Faculty, Julia Blair (hand made all of the clay tiles & provided expertise) the MCC ceramic students with oversight by instructors Carolyn Johnson, Debbie Bell and Heather Wesp.
Montcalm Area Artist Association – Claudia Neilsen & her fellow artist members.
Local historical expertise was provided by Mike Stafford, Elsie McNeil of the Flat River Historical Museum and Bill Delp of the Fighting Falcon Military Museum.
FRED MEIJER FLAT RIVER TRAIL TUNNEL MUSEUM DEDICATION VOLUNTEERS
Dr. Peter Blinkilde – GACF Board Chair, Greenville City Manager George Bosanic, City Engineer Doug Hinken, Larry Hutchinson – Hutchinson Studios, Rick Welch – Welch Tile & Marble, Director of Cranbrook Institute of Science Dr. Michael Stafford.