EATON RAPIDS, Mich. — G.A.R. Island Park in Eaton Rapids has been under construction for the past year as crews worked on bridges and the playground and raised sea walls, but construction is wrapping up.
“So over the past year crews have worked on a replacement of the pedestrian bridge connecting River Street to G.A.R Island Park. They’ve also worked on the sea walls around the park both replacing them and raising them by six inches, as well as a new river walk pedestrian bridge connecting Hamlin Square to Mill Pointe Park,” said Eaton Rapids City Manager Aaron Desentz.
The city was awarded $2.7 million from the Community Development Block Grant in September of last year, which helped pay for the project.
Desentz said the upgrades were needed.
“The condition of the pedestrian bridge on the east side of the island connecting River Street was in very bad condition," Desentz said. "You had a lot of exposed rebar, crumbling concrete. So those things had to be taken care of and it was beyond repair at that point. Really had to be replaced. The sea walls around the island were also in a crumbling state they were decades old.”
Playground equipment has also been replaced and upgraded so it's ADA accessible.
The river walk is now officially open but the changes to the park won't be complete until the spring.
“There’s still some construction going on at island and the replacement of the playground equipment. Also restoration of the grass and vegetation still has to take place,” said Desentz.
Keith Harrison the board president of Michigan’s G.A.R. Memorial Hall & Museum said the park has been used for many different things over the years.
“Basically from 1872 on, almost 150 years. Well. first of all. the island was much larger than it is now, almost to State Street and Bridge. It was that large. And they did things like they had carriage rides on the park, they had a zoo on the park,” Harrison said.
Joel Krupa, an Eaton Rapids resident, has created a lot of memories with his wife and kids at the park over the years. He said the upgrades add value to the town.
“In a town that’s as small as ours, anything that’s really monumental, as big as this, is always a positive change,” Krupa said.
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