ALPENA -John Gilmet of Thunder Bay Tree Service took the initiative this summer to make some improvements on the riverside landscaping along Washington Avenue Park, which cleaned up the area, as well as created a more appealing view of the Thunder Bay River.
As a result of Gilmet's generosity the City of Alpena instituted a new adopt-a-park program that allows residents, organizations and local businesses a chance to select a park and help to maintain or improve it. The improvements made along the M-32 corridor were just the beginning and thanks to another contribution from Lafarge, another section of riverfront property is going to undergo a needed facelift.
City Engineer Rich Sullenger said Lafarge contacted the city and expressed interest in playing a role in helping to beautify another section of land along the river.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
This summer Thunder Bay Tree Service did some much needed maintenance to Alpena’s Washington Avenue Park. Owner John Gilmet and his workers removed dead trees, removed obstructive vegetation and added a touch of decoration along the riverfront. Now, thanks to a donation from Lafarge, the riverside property on Johnson Street will be receiving a facelift as well.
"They indicated that this year they could not commit resources or the people necessary to actually adopt a park. However they were willing to donate $3,000 to the city and targeted improving the shoreline along Johnson Street from the dam northward to the hospital," Sullenger said. "The work will be similar to the work done along Washington up to the cemetery."
Sullenger said the work done by Thunder Bay Tree Service this summer provided a better view of the river, which made wildlife more easily viewed and made activities such as fishing easier. He said clearing the area on Johnson Street has been a goal of the city for some time, but a tight budget has made it difficult to do the work.
"They will take down some of the dead trees, remove some of the invasive species and clean up the brush and overgrowth; just open the view up," Sullenger said. "This will come with no cost to the city taxpayers. This is funded by Lafarge and a private contract with Thunder Bay Tree Service. This is a project we have had on our radar because that land is a beautiful asset, but finding the money to be able to do it has been difficult."
Sullenger said the project along Washington Avenue turned out well and residents have been pleased by how the area looks. He said he also has had more than a few people contact him about taking part in the adopt-a-park program.
"We have gotten a lot of positive response and most of it has been from people who enjoy being able to see the river better. It really wasn't an attractive appearance on one of the primary entrances into the city," Sullenger said. "I have about four or five applications for the adopt-a-park program on my desk right now and they are from various individuals and organizations. I think you are going to see some additional corporate people step up and volunteer to either provide resources, manpower or potential funding. It has been received very well and I'm very pleased with it. Obviously it is still in its infancy, so I hope it will continue to grow. I think next spring when we get the signs out which will recognize the people who adopt a park it might kick it up yet another notch."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.