Tecumseh city parks inviting for variety of summer fun
The city of Tecumseh has something that not every small community has — over 360 acres of parkland, free and open to the public, and summer is prime time for enjoying the parks in the system. Those who want a mini-getaway don’t have to travel far, whether the desire is to fish, water-gaze or get wet, or to picnic or walk a nature trail.Which of the parks is the most popular?“I think it’s a three-way tie between Cal Zorn Park, Tecumseh Park — also known as “The Pit,” and Indian Crossing Trails,” said Shelley Lim, Director of Cultural and Leisure Services. “Each one serves a different function and it kind of depends on what people are looking for.”Lim said Cal Zorn Park, on Russell Road, is definitely the city’s outdoor sports center, especially in terms of its organized programs. Plus, that’s where the Splash Pad is located, and it’s getting a lot of use as the temperatures hover toward the top of the thermometer.“It makes me smile every time I drive by there, the Splash Pad is so well used,” said Lim.While there are no organized sports at “The Pit,” Lim said it’s a great place to swim, play volleyball in a new sand pit that was recently refurbished or have a picnic.“It’s just a great place to kick back and relax,” Lim said. Families also use the park for sledding in the winter.Indian Crossing Trails, behind the Tecumseh Community Center, is easily the city’s hidden gem with nature paths that meander through the woods.“I think it’s very well used and a lot of people don’t realize there’s just under 140 acres of woodland right in the city of Tecumseh,” Lim said. “It’s gorgeous back there, and even on a hot summer day you can walk through the trails and it’s almost all shaded.” She added that people are constantly spotting deer in the park, as well as a bald eagle that frequents the area. “One woman saw a fox out there recently, and there are several species of turtles, frogs, rabbits — it’s a thriving natural environment right in the city.”One of the most picturesque parks is the Douglas Bird Kiwanis Memorial Park on N. Maumee St. at Herrick Park Drive. Evans Creek flows through the park.“That may be one of our prettiest parks,” said Lim. “The Kiwanis Club does such a great job helping to keep it landscaped and beautiful. I see so many people taking graduation or wedding photos in that park.”The next park to undergo development will be the John Smith Park on N. Evans Street. The Parks and Recreation Department will be moving to the new AJ Smith Recreation Center by the first of the new year, and two full-size sports court multipurpose rooms will be open for more indoor activities than the city has been able to provide before.“I think we’ll be able to offer the community more once we’re out there, especially in the area of indoor activities,” said Lim. “Our partners like the churches and schools have been very cooperative with us in the past, but we’ve had to work around others’ schedules to offer some activities.” With the city having its own complex, scheduling will become easier.Lim said that when AJ Smith donated the John Smith Park, and Recreation Advisory Board developed a Master Plan for the park a number of years ago.“AJ Smith wanted both active and passive recreation,” Lim said. “We will likely be developing a few ball diamonds or playing fields out there in the future, but a large portion of the park will remain in the natural state. We’ll definitely see some nice walking trails out there in the future.”And speaking of trails. The city has a system of trails and motorized pathways that encompass approximately seven miles of paved pathways.“These were designed not only for pedestrians but also for biking,” Lim said. While regular additions were previously made to the trails, a slow-down in the availability of grant funding has also affected the city’s ability to add more trail. Lim said some people still hope to one day see the city’s system connect to the Kiwanis Trail, as well as go north into Clinton. “I know that was something that former Parks and Recreation Director Pat Sorise dreamed about, and he did all he could to take the trails to the city’s outer edges in preparation for that future,” Lim said.In addition to the many ways the city’s parks may be used for leisure summer activities, Lim said approximately 1,000 to 1,500 kids go through the Parks and Recreation Department’s organized sports programs. The city attempts to offer not only traditional sports such as soccer, football and basketball programs, but is trying other areas.“In our second year of youth tennis we went from 45 to 60 participants,” Lim said. “This year we also had baton twirling, and Tammy Gilbert, the instructor, got a full scholarship to the University of Memphis for twirling, so our kids got expert instruction from her.” Parks and Rec Clerk Kyle Braunschneider, who was a captain at Tecumseh High School, also led a lacrosse camp this year. “It’s an up and coming sport, so we’re taking some opportunities to see if there’s interest in some different things.”The city’s Parks and Recreation budget for this past year was approximately $340,000. Lim estimates that approximately $40,000 of that goes into keeping the parks maintained and in good shape.Other parks in the system include: Adams Park, Aden Mead Park, Beardsley Park, Elliott Park (Scout Cabin), Evans Park, Hotrum Promenade Park, Satterthwaite Park, Standish Dam, Sunset Street Park, and open green space known as the Westhaven Site.