Ever since Cove Park unofficially reopened last fall, Lakewood councilman Dan O’Malley has been watching to see how residents are enjoying the revamped recreation area.
“I’ve been riding my bike to the park a couple of times a week to see how people were using it, and it’s really popular,” the Ward 4 councilman says. “It’s great to see it already being used.”
Though the Cove Park renovation was technically completed last fall, O’Malley and other Lakewood city officials gathered last Friday, June 14, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and family-friendly activities to officially celebrate the city’s latest park improvement.
Located at 1294 Cove Ave., the new three-acre Cove Park features a new playground and equipment, relocated T-ball field, soccer field, sheltered picnic area with tables, an improved community garden, a quarter-mile walking path, permeable pavers in the parking lot, and an additional walk-in entrance off Thoreau Road. The improvements cost $730,000, half of which was covered by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“Cove Park has mature hardwood trees that provide shade, but the layout posed problems,” says city planner Michelle Nochta. “So, we moved the T-ball field and stripped it so the dugout and backstop are closer to the bathroom.”
According to Nochta, the Cove Park site once housed temporary housing during the World War II era. While the housing is long gone and the original park was built in the 40s or 50s, Nochta says the initial renovations were a bit of an archeological dig.
“When we were excavating, we found remnants of old streetcars rails and glass bottles and street bricks,” she says.
Nochta says the results of the hard work have been worth it. “We have so many more people accessing the park now,” she tells FreshWater, citing the improved access via the new entrance. “It’s a very [population]-dense area, so it’s nice to provide that greenspace in an area where people may not have a lawn or greenspace to walk their dogs."
O’Malley also notes the importance of making the park even more accessible. “It’s within walking distance of the Gold Coast—the most densely populated area in our city—and is set in a low- to mid-income level area that is very multi-cultural," says O'Malley.
And the community will help keep it beautiful, with Lakewood Garden Club providing native plants, flowers, and materials and Lakewood Earth and Food (LEAF) Community maintaining the community garden. The Lakewood Soccer Association's youth teams will play on the soccer field.
The redevelopment of Cove Park is part of Lakewood’s four-year Park System Strategic Plan. As Behnke Landscape Architecture developed the plan for the new park, and worked with the city to host a series of community engagement meetings to help form a vision for Cove Park.
Next up on the Park System Master Plan, says Nochta, is Wagar Park at 15900 Madison Ave. Construction is scheduled to begin on that project this fall.