Residents help clean up Southside Park
Dozens of children, village residents, business owners and even state Rep. Aaron Miller descended on Southside Park to begin the process of revitalizing the facility Saturday.
The revitalization began with a cleanup of the park, which has been the subject of discussion for nearly a year since the Cassopolis Village Council decided to sell the property to Community Mills as part of the business’ expansion.
Village residents came forward and lobbied the council not to sell the park, and after wavering back and forth last fall, decided not to sell the park and instead invest in renovating the location.
At its April 11 meeting, the council approved $6,000 for new equipment, which includes the installation of a grill and water fountain.
Prior to Saturday’s cleanup, Darin Boyles, owner of the Turtle Lodge, found some old drainage pipes at the Department of Public Works and asked if he could have them to create a centerpiece for the park, which was painted with graffiti art by Cassopolis residents.
“There are a lot of people who just showed up out of the blue on top of the Girls On The Run,” Boyles said. “It has been a good turnout. It turned out better than I thought it would to be honest. I think that something like this, even with the little bit of landscaping that we have done, inspires people to come out and help improve and maintain the park for the future.”
Willie Moore was asked by hisformer art teacher to spearhead the painting of the pipes, and although he had never worked in that medium, he was ready to take on the challenge.
“I was at college (Southwestern Michigan College) one day and my art teacher called me and said they needed an artist to do a big graffiti piece,” Moore said. “I had nothing else to do and it was good exposure for me so I said yes. I drew it out a little bit to kind of get an idea, but graffiti is graffiti. I am just glad I could do it legally.”
Moore added that he is more of a pencil to paper type of artist, but was happy to get the chance to take on the project.
“The challenge is the spray paint. You have to get it just right,” Moore said. “You can’t get it too close and sometimes you cannot be too far away.”
Moore was also impressed with the turnout.
“I am glad to see all the young kids here,” he said.
Miller heard about the Southside Park clean up while holding office hours in Cassopolis earlier in the month. He felt it was important to take part in revitalizing a part of the community.
“I firmly believe in, No. 1, being a regular guy,” Miller said, “and helping out your community. After family, that is No. 1. I wanted to come out and show that I care. Publicity is not my goal. I just wanted to help. I have worked with Darin in the past and I have worked with several of the village board members.
“Last office hours I had in Cassopolis they said do you know where Southside Park is? I have driven past this a 100 times, but I did not know the park and its history. They talked to me about how it needs clean up and how it needs a solution for the water. So when I heard about the cleanup day, so I had to come out.”
A fundraising pancake breakfast was also offered at the Turtle Lodge Saturday morning and was a success according to Boyles.