By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – As southeastern Michigan enjoys its last week of summer, local officials and residents gathered to celebrate the opening of a new splash pad at Market Center Park, 13631 Eureka Road.
Mayor Joseph Kuspa, who spoke Sept. 15 at the splash pad ribbon cutting, said with its opening, a piece of the puzzle of Market Center Park is coming to fruition.
“It’s hard to believe 10 years ago we had a visioning session just down the block here at the Old Country Buffet,” he said. “We had businesses, we had residents and we had those interested in the center, as to what we could create here.”
Kuspa said an old Montgomery Ward store used to be located at the current site of Market Center Park, which stood empty for 10 or 12 years before the property owner was convinced to take the building down at his expense and turn the property over to the city.
“Not an easy thing to do, especially in the times we were faced with, but he realized the potential the rest of the center would have if this became a gathering space for our community,” he said. “And it certainly has done that.”
Kuspa said that over the years the city added the pavilion and its wings, a pathway to Trenton Road and now the splash pad.
He said many people helped make Market Center Park a reality, including the state of Michigan, with grants.
“That’s the point I want to make – this park was created through grants,” Kuspa said. “It was not created through general fund expenditures, because we didn’t have the general fund to do it.”
He thanked Wayne County, which also awarded grants to Southgate for Market Center Park.
“The splash pad is entirely funded through a grant that was administered by the county and federal grant dollars, CDBG funding, and we are very appreciative of that,” Kuspa said.
CDBG, Community Development Block Grant programs, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, funds local community development activities to provide affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development.
Kuspa thanked Recreation Director Julie Goddard for her help securing the grant.
Also present were State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton), Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Palamara (D-District 15) and Darcel Brown with Wayne County’s Economic Development team and a past mayor of Ecorse.