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Johnny Appleseed Park re-opens after $410,000 in renovations

Date: 5/31/2011

June 1, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — For the people who regularly use Johnny Appleseed Park at the corner of Mill and Hancock streets, the message at the official re-opening of the park on May 25 was that government does listen.

Three years ago, Francheska Reveron spoke to Sheila McElwaine, a Forest Park resident and activist working on a community garden project, about the park. Reveron explained to Reminder Publications that she was raised in the neighborhood and had used the park as a child. Now that she was a mother herself, she wasn't happy with either the park's facilities or with its trash and discarded drug paraphernalia.

McElwaine helped Reveron with a letter to Mayor Domenic Sarno, which set into motion a $410,000 renovation of the park that included a new basketball court, plantings, new benches and tables and a new playscape.

"I'm very proud the way it came out, " Reveron said. "It's very good for the summer programs we have at the church [the Straitway to Heaven Church across the street]."

On the day of the announcement, the park was filled with parents with young children, youths playing basketball and senior citizens sitting at the benches and tables.

Sarno recalled playing in the park as child himself and said it really needed to be updated. The project was paid by a Community Development Block Grant and a state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant.

Sarno said the city is currently making improvements to the park on Myrtle Street in Indian Orchard and is close to announcing a project at the Rebecca M. Johnson School. He added his administration would continue seeking grants to improve the city's park system.

Ward 3 City Councilor Melvin Edwards said, "It's great to see when government does listen to people."

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