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Park needs donations, volunteers

LEFT: A group of volunteers spent Saturday morning cutting trees and clearing brush in the park. Pictured from left: Mike Moran, Dan Sutherby, Cheri Arsenault, Dan McKenna, Leonard President Mike McDonald, and Charlie McKenna. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
September 01, 2010 - Leonard's Nature Park is really beginning to take shape, but it still needs donations and lots of elbow grease to make it the perfect spot for residents and visitors to immerse themselves in the village's charming, rustic appeal.

"The park's progress is slow due to financial constraints, but steady," said Cheri Arsenault, co-chair of the village's Park and Recreation Committee. "We could use more volunteer help."

The 3.1-acre rectangular park is located just south of the Polly Ann Trail on the east side of Forest St. (Rochester Rd).

"The park's important to the village because it's kind of a legacy we're leaving for future generations," Arsenault said. "Rather than using the property for profit and having a development put there, the intent is to make it a place to contemplate and enjoy nature in a downtown area."

In an effort to help beautify the park, the community's launched a "Bulbs for Bucks" campaign in which financial contributions are being solicited to purchase 600 to 700 daffodil bulbs to plant along Forest St.

"We want it to be natural-looking," Arsenault said. "We'll just kind of scatter them."

Daffodils were selected because they're "deer-resistant."

"They have no interest in eating them," she said.

Daffodils are also "very easy to care for and when they're done blooming, you can starting mowing that area."

"They don't need to be planted in a bed or anything like that," she said.

So far, $78 of the $500 goal has been raised.

"We've been collecting money since the Strawberry Festival," Arsenault said.

Donations can be sent to the village office at 23 E. Elmwood St., P.O. Box 789, Leonard, MI 48367. Please make checks payable to the Village of Leonard Park and Recreation Committee.

Arsenault is inviting local equestrians to stop by the park and use the hitching post that was recently installed.

Donated by Leonard father and son Paul and Tony Thomas, the stone hitching post has been in their family for five generations, as long as the family's lived in the village.

Tony indicated his father believes it was made sometime in the 1890s. "That's what he's always been told," he said.

Tony is planning to move to Canada with his family to operate a hunting and fishing lodge. He wanted the post to stay in Leonard.

"It will actually be used for what it was made for 120 years ago," Tony said. "That's pretty neat."

"It's really a nice addition to the park to have something like that," Arsenault said. "It's on the north side of the park, closer to the (Polly Ann) Trail. It's under some trees, so the horses can get some shade."

When asked how many horses it can accommodate, she replied, "I'm thinking if they're nice horses and get along with each other, quite a few."

Those interested in volunteering and helping out with the park effort are invited to attend the Park and Recreation Committee meetings held at Rowland Hall (23 E. Elmwood St.) on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.

Interested folks can also call the village office at (248) 628-7380 and leave a message with their contact information.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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