From Mlive.com | By: Andrew Dodson
Plans to bring one of Bay City's oldest parks back to life are well underway, with more than $70,000 raised and enough momentum to schedule a June dedication.
Last August, a new nonprofit dedicated to helping Bay County veterans launched plans to revitalize Battery Park at the four corners of Center Avenue and Jefferson Street, just west of the Bay County Building and the "Avenue of Heroes" war memorial.
The park, which was drafted in Bay City village records in 1849 and came to fruition after the Civil War in 1865, isn't what it used to be, but does remain a green space today.
Over the past eight months, Don Carlyon and Keith Markstrom, founding members of the Bay Veterans Foundation, have raised tens of thousands of dollars through multiple grants and individual donations, and secured labor and material donations for a number of pieces that are to be installed at the park, including two cannon replicas and a guard shack that will double as an informational kiosk.
"The support has been nothing short of amazing," Markstrom said.
The duo's work continues today. They remain about $40,000 short of their $110,000 goal. About $70,000 in requests for money are still waiting for an answer. The nonprofit has secured grants from the Kantzler Foundation, Smith Foundation and the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce 2014 Leadership Class.
They are tentatively planning a June 21 dedication ceremony.
Battery Park was set aside as Bay City's town square when the city's original plans were drafted in 1849. At the time, Bay City was not yet incorporated as a city. The term "battery park" refers to the military designation for a group of cannon or artillery units and a place for local militia to drill and parade.
Each of the park's four parcels measured 100-feet-by-100-feet and it once featured a flowerbed and a fountain. The born-again park won't feature a fountain, but will have plenty of landscaping.
The park was known for its cannons that fired at Fort Sumter to commence the Civil War. Those cannons made their way to Bay City after U.S. Rep. George Loud, who represented Michigan's 10th District as a member of the 58th U.S. Congress, campaigned to bring them here, according to local historic records.
Loud wanted all four, but compromised with the U.S. War Department, which parted with two of them after congressional pressure that made headlines nationwide, according to a 2005 Bay City Times report. Two other cannons came from the USS Hartford.
Four other cannons were also installed across Bay City -- two in front of Bay City Hall and two at the Sage Library -- from the USS Portsmouth, according to historic records.
All eight cannons were ultimately taken for scrap and melted down during World War II.
Max, Scott and Jason Holman, of Bay Cast foundry, have already cast one of the new replica cannons. Tentative plans are to install a Dahlgren cannon at the northwest corner of the park and a mortar cannon at the southeast corner of the park.
Planned for the southwest corner of the park is a guard shack designed by Tom Freiwald, of Freiwald Staudacher Design Inc., to look like a replica of the original shack that was once at the park.
"The level of detail is incredible," said Carlyon.
A Delta College building trades class is going to construct the shack, which is going to include information about the park, in addition to upcoming events of the Bay County Historical Society.
The "Avenue of Heroes" memorial is near the northeast quadrant of the park.
In the coming weeks, volunteer crews are going to trim and remove trees on the north side of the park, in addition to removing existing sidewalks. Bay County work crews are going to install the new sidewalks to mirror the exact angle of the sidewalks installed in December in front of the Alice and Jack Wirt Library.
Bay Landscaping and Begick Nursery have provided landscaping consulting free of charge. Those interested in donating have the opportunity to fund specific features of the park, including trees, shrubs and park benches.
Checks can be made payable to "Bay Veterans Foundation -- Battery Park," and mailed to Bay Veterans Foundation, P.O. Box 1513, Bay City, Michigan, 48706.