Greenmead Park in Livonia is 'underutilized.' Officials want it to reach its potential. – Hometown Life
Livonia Councilman Jim Jolly likes that Greenmead Historical Park allows his children to see history with their own eyes.
“I think what is particularly drawing for my kids is they like seeing these old buildings,” he said. “They learn about history in school and it kind of seems like a faraway thing… But they can see a general store, a church and different buildings that were actually here in this community.”
Jolly is chairing the steering committee to create a master plan for Greenmead, at the corner of Eight Mile and Newburgh roads, that will guide the site for several decades.
The park is currently open to the public for free and hosts a number of events — Night of Lights in December and the Motor City Irish Fest in the summer are two — held there. Greenmead has a variety of historical buildings previously used elsewhere in Livonia and surrounding cities and has a sledding hill and walking trail, as well.
“We want this to be a site that is utilized and a park that is valued by our residents as somewhere they can go 365 days a year,” Jolly said. “It’s exciting. We have this great asset in Livonia and it’s been completely underutilized, underfunded, under-thought-through.”
The Greenmead 356 Master Plan committee created a website, greenmead365.com, where people can learn more about the park, the planning process and share their own ideas for its future. The committee also plans to send another survey to residents to gather more feedback.
“Public input does have a lot of say into it because ultimately it’s a democracy,” said Dan West, CEO of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce.
West said one of his personal hopes for the site is for it to give families a community asset to enjoy. He lives near the park and visits it often.
“We believe this could be a prime regional attraction,” he said. “Greenfield Village has their thing; we could have our thing here for western Wayne and southern Oakland County.”
Jolly and Ted Davis, the city’s parks and recreation superintendent, said their biggest hope is to see the park well-used all year long. Another local leader, Councilman Brandon McCullough, has floated the idea of a live music venue at Greenmead.
“At one point the Hill House had a working farm on the property,” Jolly said. “It would be great to have some degree of a petting zoo or farm animals to kind of bring back the feel of what that site was originally back in the day … It would be great when we have these fall days instead of going out to a cider mill or apple orchard outside of Livonia, we could have some of those experiences here at Greenmead.”
But, at this point, Jolly said the committee is “considering everything” and looking for the public’s guidance.
One thing the committee knows needs to happen is a capital needs plan for the historical buildings at the park. While some are open to the public, others are not.
“Imagine if you owned a historic home,” Davis said. “It’s a great house built 100-plus years ago. You’re going to have daily, weekly and monthly maintenance. We have a lot of that.”
Davis hopes to give four of the structures new roofs next year and is looking forward to having a plan to improving all the buildings. The master plan should be completed in early 2022 and cost roughly $80,000 to create.
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“Doing a needs assessment for each one of the buildings is a specific part of the plan,” Jolly said. “We’ve had experts in all of these buildings as part of 365 to tell us what needs to be done and give us a roadmap to actually accomplishing that.”
The city will look to get local cooperate partners to help fund building rehab projects. Davis said potentially charging a small per-car fee at the park for future upkeep isn’t completely out of the question, either.
Between repairs and new additions, the master plan should, in Jolly’s words, help Greenmead be “what it should have been from the beginning.”
“This is distinct to our community,” West said. “Not everybody has a historical village like this.”
Contact reporter Shelby Tankersley at [email protected] or 248-305-0448. Follow her on Twitter @shelby_tankk.