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Fire Barn Park playground fundraising underway

Marie Havenga • Oct 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM

City officials and recreation committee members are hoping the second time is a charm for the playground equipment at Fire Barn Park, and they've received a $25,000 boost from Peter Secchia, who has owned a lakefront summer home in Ferrysburg for decades.

City leaders tried unsuccessfully to replace the park’s play apparatus in 2010. They are now in the process of launching a new fundraising effort for the playground at the northwest corner of North Shore Road and 174th Avenue.

The swing set, teeter-totter, slide and sandbox are the originals that were installed in the early 1970s, shortly after Ferrysburg broke off from Spring Lake Township and became its own city.

“The equipment is kind of obsolete and we can't get parts for it,” said Ferrysburg City Manager Craig Bessinger. “We want to make it accessible for all.”

Bessinger said the fundraising campaign is off to a great start, with a $25,000 donation from Secchia, a long-time Grand Rapids businessman and Republican Party leader who served as the U.S. ambassador to Italy and San Marino from 1989-93.

The project, which will feature a firehouse theme, will cost about $100,000.

The city’s Recreation Commission met Thursday to discuss the fundraising project.

The plan is to send letters to solicit donations.

“We're trying to raise funds to change out all that equipment,” Bessinger said. “We're getting a site plan put together of the equipment we'd like to see there.”

That includes handicap-accessible playground equipment.

“The playground gets a lot of use from residents who live nearby,” the city manager said. “When there's a baseball or soccer game going on, families use the equipment while they're there. Children are playing there during the games.”

Bessinger said that, if all goes well, the funds will be available by the end of the year and construction would begin first thing in the spring.

“It's something that's been on the Recreation Commission's docket for a number of years,” Bessinger said. “We had a site plan put together back in 2010, but we weren't able to get funding. It's always something that's been on the shelf.”

If you are interested in donating, send a check to Ferrysburg City Hall, P.O. Box 38, Ferrysburg, MI 49409. Make the check out to “City of Ferrysburg,” with the words “Fire Barn Park Playground” in the memo line.

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