MASON, Mich. — A piece of the former Freer Farm, located just outside of Dansville in Ingham Township, is set to become Freer Park.
Both the farm and the park were named after the Freer family who had owned the land since the early 1900s. The public park will be on the northernmost 15 acres of the farm.
It will include soccer fields, ball fields, walking paths, a pavilion and a playground.
"It's almost finished. We're looking for our grand opening in April, April 19 is the current schedule, but anybody can come out and walk the path now," Ingham Township Trustee Dave Harns said.
The walking path is a half mile long and accessible to all. Harns said he had the idea for the park seven years ago, and, about four years ago, the township was able to purchase the land from the Freer family.
"Right when we were about to build the park, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We were literally ready to break ground...so we scaled back our plans a little bit and still proceeded forward," Harns said.
"Right now, the local kids travel out to White Oak Township to play soccer and baseball and softball," he said. "That's the closest area where we can have this much room. And so part of the idea was to bring some of that local here to Dansville, so that, when other teams come for games and tournaments and those types of things, that our downtown of Dansville will benefit from that."
At 60 years old, Tim Freer is the youngest of the four Freer children. He said that he lived on the farm for about 58 years, the longest of all his siblings. He had a house on the corner with an acre of land that he sold two years after his mother's passing in 2016. It was after his mother's passing that he and his siblings decided to sell 15 acres of the farm to the Township at a discounted price of $20,000.
"Because it's close to the school property, so we might as well donate some, or, not really a donation but we sold a portion of it to the township for a park," Freer explained.
Harns said the township developed the front 10 acres but "left the back five acres as farmland for now, and if in the future we want to expand the park, we can go another five acres back, but for now we're leasing that to the local farmer so that we can use some of the revenue to pay for the maintenance of the park."
Freer said he's "just glad we could contribute some toward Dansville. My dad, he loved the farm so much and we all loved the farm so much. My mom and dad, they worked really hard at it. We have lots of good memories out there."
The township received a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant for $150,000 and was able to match it, making the project a total of $300,000, not including the cost of the land.
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