A community’s park system says a lot about the vibe of a city. In conversations about seasonal events, just the mention of a certain park can strike up memories of activities that happen in the park. Whether it’s hosting a baseball game or disc-golf tournament, parks make cities feel like home. Commitment to their upkeep and continuous improvement is a worthy investment for city officials.
The St. Joseph Park Board voted last year to complete the third phase of improvements to Northland Park and focus on a transformation of Cloverdale Park this year. Just before winter temperatures arrived, members of the St. Joseph Public Works department extended a bridge from an existing slide and added two more slides for enjoyment at Northland Park. Additional planned improvements to the neighborhood park include a trail extension to the playground area and the addition of benches. Park board members voted to budget about $25,000 for improvements to the park.
Work to take Cloverdale Park in St. Joseph from a tot lot to a contemplative space continues. Improvements include the addition of a gazebo in the middle of the park, plantings and a weaving walkway around the park. If the estimated project cost of $25,000 is reduced, board members said they hope to add passive play equipment. Updates to the park are slated for completion next year with some of the tree planting starting as early as Earth Day this year with the help of volunteers.
Improvements to Cloverdale Park are part of the city’s master park plan. Created in 2008, the park plan proposed upgrades that include the addition of a gazebo, labyrinth, a walking trail, granite monuments and landscaping and other site amenities. The estimated cost of the proposed improvements is about $230,000. Plans might have been scaled back but efforts to improve the park remain.
Parks matter. According to a previous survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 65 percent of home shoppers surveyed felt parks would seriously influence them to move to a community. With tight budgets and dwindling state aid, it’s inevitable some projects will be put on hold. This is the case for many area cities; St. Joseph is no exception. The city’s efforts to keep park projects moving forward shows just how important parks are to a community. They are a worthy investment and one that not only draws people to a community but can keep them there.