Chants of “Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!” from eager Mary A. White Elementary School second-graders and Griffin Elementary School third-graders filled the air Monday afternoon as the ribbon was about to be cut for the new community-built playground at Grand Haven State Park.
The new playground was made possible through a partnership of the Friends of Grand Haven State Park, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Carter’s Kids — a foundation started by HGTV personality Carter Oosterhouse.
“To me, it means so much to see the smiles on these kids’ faces,” Oosterhouse said at the event.
The state park playground was one of three community-built spaces installed this past summer as part of the DNR's 2017 Playground Initiatives Project. The Grand Haven project utilized DNR employees and Friends of Grand Haven State Park volunteers to prepare the site and construct play equipment over the course of two days.
“We wouldn’t be able to do this stuff if we didn’t have a relationship with the Michigan DNR and the Friends of Grand Haven State Park,” Oosterhouse noted. “Those are the people who really make projects like this come about.”
The DNR partnered with Carter’s Kids to provide design and construction services with Sinclair Recreation and to assist with coordination of the community-build project. The $125,000 project was supported by the Friends of Grand Haven State Park and funds from the sale of Michigan’s Recreation Passport.
The barrier-free playground features a ramp, poured-in-place surfacing and a walkway to the playground. The playground is located within the campground and offers slides, cargo nets, interactive tic-tac-toe board, balance beam and several climbing elements.
"This playground is going to be a wonderful addition to the park, providing a great, safe place for kids of all abilities to play and be healthy,” said Grand Haven State Park Supervisor Matt Shaver. "A tremendous amount of community involvement went into the design and installation of this unique and welcoming space. We want to sincerely thank everyone involved in taking this project from concept to reality."
Oosterhouse said his organization initially began working on community playground projects as a way to combat childhood obesity.
“But now, we’re seeing it’s much more than that,” he said. “It’s also the community development and the surrounding people that are in the area — whether they’re taking part in building the playground or their kids are going to use it.”
Oosterhouse called the playground projects community epicenters that attract people.
“When you have something like that, you realize it’s much bigger than what you intended,” he said. “But we’ll take it.”
Two other community builds, at Island Lake and Holly recreation areas, were unveiled earlier this month.