Outdoor Spaces that Transform Communities
The public spaces in our communities say a lot about our values and priorities. Well-conceived public spaces provide a sense of culture and place. They inspire us, bring us together and even have the potential to strengthen bonds across barriers such as race, income, religion and other differences that sometimes divide us in our private lives and pursuits.
At the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, we invest in outdoor public spaces throughout the seven counties of southeast Michigan because they add so much to the quality of life in our region. In addition to intangible qualities like connectedness and sense of place, they boost property values, improve the environment and help us stay healthy by providing places to bike, walk and experience the restorative benefits of nature. The stories that follow touch upon just a few of the diverse assortment of outdoor places that have been created, improved or sustained with grants from the Community Foundation. We hope you will get out and explore some of these parks and trails in the coming months, or enjoy time with family and friends at your own particular favorites in our region.
Kids and water go together in the summer time like peanut butter and jelly. At Lakeside Park, on the shores of Lake Huron in the city of Port Huron, kids can now beat the heat at a new splash pad. The splash pad opened in May, thanks in large part to a grant from the Stebbins Family Fund at the Community Foundation.
Open to all residents of the county, the splash pad is fully ADA-accessible — which means that it is barrier-free and can be used by individuals of all levels of physical ability. It features structures that pay homage to local sites in Port Huron, such as the Blue Water Bridge and the lighthouse. The splash pad is the cornerstone of a variety of improvements to the park, including landscaping, new benches, showers and drinking fountains and a security station. A pavilion suitable for large gatherings is also in the planning stages.
The Stebbins family sees the new splash pad as a way to make sure every child has a safe, fun place to play and enjoy the summer. Their approach to philanthropy was shaped by their own experience of childhood poverty and a wish to improve the quality of life for children and families in their home county. Since 2005, the Community Foundation has been privileged to help them make grants totaling more than $7.5 million to support programs and services that can be made available to all, regardless of ability to pay.
The Community Foundation has been a leader in the accessible recreation movement in our state since 2006, bringing education and resources for building accessible public spaces to municipalities and organizations throughout the region. The splash pad at Lakeside Park is the 9th accessible park or playscape funded by the Community Foundation since that time.