By Charles Sercombe
Improvements continue to happen at the city’s largest park.
On the heels of the state issuing the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation to the Friends of Historic Hamtramck Stadium, in honor of the renovations done at the stadium, there is another project about to get underway.
Recently, the city received a federal grant, worth almost $654,000, to install restrooms at Veterans Park.
It gets better.
State Rep Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) announced there is an additional $300,000 coming from the state to add to the restroom project.
The state grant will go toward installing a drinking fountain; making improvements to the stadium’s utility infrastructure; and repaving a pathway from the park’s restroom to the stadium’s parking lot.
The stadium has a busy schedule, hosting upcoming baseball games for high schoolers, amateur teams and other organizations.
Speaking about the state grant, State Rep. Aiyash said:
“This stadium will serve as a timeless source of inspiration for generations to come. Hamtramck Stadium holds great importance, not just for Hamtramck’s history, but also for the Negro Leagues connection to baseball throughout the United States. Through the preservation and restoration of this Stadium, we simultaneously invest in our future and honor our historical roots.”
You may think a million dollars is a lot just for restrooms, and you may ask: Are they going to have gold-plated fixtures?
Of course not. City Manager Max Garbarino said the project will require installing brand new water and sewer lines, as well as making a host of other improvements to the former restroom building that is still standing. All of this involves no small cost.
And, there are also a slew of requirements in order to conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
This is no home improvement job.
The park’s restrooms were long ago closed down, due to vandalism and security concerns.
However, times have changed.
The park has been experiencing ongoing renovations for the past several years, and the improvements also coincide with the restoration of Hamtramck’s historical baseball stadium.
The stadium was once home to the Detroit Stars of the Negro League baseball back in the 1930s, when African-Americans were not permitted to play in the all-white Major Leagues.
Time went by, and people forgot about what once happened at the stadium.
Its significance was not discovered until several years ago, but, since that time, it has received a historic designation by the state.
That has led to numerous grants, worth millions of dollars, to fix it up – and also to permanently put an end to occasional calls to tear it down.
The stadium’s renovation also dovetails with plans for further improvements at Veterans Park, which at one time became blighted and was considered unsafe to hang out in.
But again, times change, and in the 1980s residents banded together to stop a development plan for the park and save it from destruction.
That effort snowballed into more people hopping on board to bring the park back to life.
These days, you can see kids playing in the park, and families relaxing there – especially on hot summer nights.
The only problem is, there is no restroom facility nearby when one is needed.
Work on the restrooms is expected to begin in the coming months.
But — that’s not all.
The city, through the Hamtramck Parks Conservancy, is also installing a playscape and outdoor work area, plus other projects.
The Conservancy is also seeking public input for the design of the playscape and you are invited to a meeting on May 25, at 5 p.m., at the Hamtramck Public Library (located at 2360 Caniff).
One part of the ultimate grand plan is to have concerts held at the stadium eventually, and thereby to make it — along with the surrounding park –an entertainment destination center.
Posted May 19, 2023