Welcoming Spring in Palmer Park

By Rochelle E. Lento, Palmer Park Board President

Spring is exploding with activity and beauty in Palmer Park. Soon, People for Palmer Park will begin healthy, safe programs. Biking, walking, and exploring nature on the paths around and trails through the park are fun ways for all to improve our wellbeing—and this treasured greenspace is right next door!

People for Palmer Park is organizing a series of outdoor, socially distanced-masked, volunteer cleanups, beginning April 24, 2021, during Earth Week. Cleanups will restore park infrastructure, such as trails, playgrounds, gardens, and parking lots. Family-friendly activities also will be held, including the Aziza Fairy Door Forest Cleanup on the trails behind the Community Center.  Children can follow a map searching for the hand-painted doors (decorated by children at Palmer Park’s Charlotte Mason School). Maybe they will see a fleeting Aziza Fairy (magical invisible nature spirits from Africa), while carrying bags and collecting garbage to keep the area clean. There will be presentations on additional stewardship activities happening in the park throughout the year, with opportunities to get involved. Although the April events will likely be over when you read this article, there will be more opportunities to pick up trash and clear trails in the future. 

On Saturday, April at 10 am on Zoom, PFPP will hosting the first ever virtual People for Palmer Park Annual Meeting via Zoom. This meeting will have a similar format to past annual meetings with a report on 2020 activities, budget/finance report, highlights from committee chairs, and plans, ideas or opportunities for 2021. Watch our website for more to come on this meeting!

Community Gardens, Farmers Markets and more

We will be continuing our program of community residents renting garden beds at the Palmer Park Community Garden.  All the beds have been rented at this point, but perhaps more will be built in the future since the demand and interest continues. We hope to make some improvements to the garden beds, and may install cages or mesh structures above the beds to keep our friendly deer and other critters at bay. That was really our biggest challenge in the garden last year. Please feel free to visit, even if you do not have a bed, as we do have a few community areas, sharing knowledge is encouraged, and help is welcome.

Thanks to the partnership with Eastern Market continuing for a second year, the weekly Farmer’s Market will again be held on Wednesdays from 4:30-7:30 at the corner of 7 Mile and Woodward in the DEN parking lot. The garden will likely start up again in June or July, when produce becomes abundant. We would love your feedback on vendors or products you would like to see at the garden. Send a message to info@peopleforpalmerpark.org

Trail Mapping Project in Palmer Park 

As many of you know from walking and exploring Palmer Park, there are miles of trails through a virgin forest that one can traverse. While adventurous folks will regularly walk these trails, others may not be as comfortable. Thanks to the efforts of two young neighbors from the University District, Chris McTaggart and Austin Crutchfield, they are embarking on a journey to map these trails. They are also identifying any locations that may have impediments (downed logs, overgrown brush) that make passage less than convenient. We will plan to post these updated maps once available on our website. 

Recreation in Palmer Park in 2021

Last year, 2020, was a banner year for the Palmer Park Tennis Academy, which was recognized as the best Community Tennis Academy in the country by the United States Tennis Association (USTA). While there was supposed to be an in-person awards ceremony, it was done virtually and our own Tennis Director, Leonora King was presented the award trophy by tennis star Billie Jean King. Following this award, PFPP launched a fundraiser effort to support scholarships for our emerging tennis stars to attend tournaments. In a space of five weeks, we raised over $10,000 for this effort through a virtual platform called Give Butter. Thanks to all neighbors who contributed! We remain hopeful that by July 2021 when outdoor tennis typically begins, we will be able to offer lessons to a larger number of youth, teens, and even adults on our new courts. 

Other outdoor recreational programming, including Thursday bike rides, Wednesday T’ai Chi lessons, bi-weekly Walking Group, and Saturday morning yoga, will hopefully resume in late May.

South End Improvements Continue 

PFPP is working closely with the City on the plans to improve and clean Lake Frances. Through a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, a major overhaul of the lake and the forest/trails will be commencing in late spring/early summer. Simultaneously, we hope to begin the restoration of the Palmer Park lighthouse located in the lake, too! 

What would you like to see in Palmer Park? 

Many ideas, initiatives and programs are constantly coming our way. Four such ideas are currently on the table, which include a dog park, a driving range on the front nine, disc golf on the back nine, and a skate/pump park in the south end. And, of course the newest opportunity: a performing arts space, if the city relocates the Fairgrounds historic Bandshell to Palmer Park. Imagine enjoying movies, music, dance, theater, poestry, storytelling and other family-friendly presentations in the park at the Bandshell! We would love your feedback on which of these ideas you think make sense for Palmer Park—please email PFPP President Rochelle Lento at info@peopleforpalmerpark.org. Your feedback and involvement in any of these efforts  is needed and welcomed… each one would be a major undertaking! 

Looking forward to events in Palmer Park

We love the beauty of the park in the spring and summer and always look forward to our annual community festivities — the Palmer Park Art Fair held the first weekend in June, and Log Cabin Day traditionally held the last weekend in June. Last year, these art-filled celebrations were cancelled, but we hope that we can present them in 2021, with added health guidelines determined by the CDC, and our state and local health departments. 

Over the past year, the Log Cabin has had many upgrades, including the installation of up-to-date and safe electricity with new period-similar lighting fixtures; an intensive cleaning and detoxification behind the walls and inside the ceilings, removing decades of animal debris and waste that we thought had been removed (but our noses kept telling us otherwise); restoration and refinishing of the first-floor, Victorian wooden pocket doors; and more. We look forward to resuming tours, exhibits, concerts, and other activities and displays in the Log Cabin to share the progress and embrace our history.

For more information, please visit www.peopleforpalmerpark.org.