New Performance Shelter at Jaycee Park


Photo by Harper McNamara

The performance center sits in Jaycee park off of River Street. It is close to the Opera House and the library.

Harper McNamara, Opinion Editor

On Aug. 8, the city of Grand Ledge completed the construction of a new performance shelter in Jaycee Park, which is located on the  Grand River. A ribbon-cutting, an inaugural performance from the Lansing Symphony Orchestra Cello Quartet, as well as speeches from community members who played a role in the development of the shelter, made up an opening ceremony for the shelter. 

Various political figures attended the ceremony, including State Representative Angela Witwer, Eaton County Commissioner Terrence Augestine, representatives for Senator Gary Peters and State Representative Tim Walberg, and Grand Ledge’s own Thom Sowle. Mayor Sowle spoke briefly at the ceremony about the importance of the structure in the context of the Grand Ledge community.

 “It is our sincere hope that this new venue will bring continuous arts and cultural opportunities for generations to come,” Sowle said in a speech livestreamed by Grand Ledge on their community Facebook page. 

After Mayor Sowle’s speech, Alison Watson, Director of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), spoke about “the fun that you can have in this space in the years to come.” The MCACA provided $90,000 to the construction effort, half of the total cost of the performance shelter. The Grand Ledge Rotary Club matched the rest of the cost with many donations from rotarians and community members. Former Rotary Club director Tim Walling spoke about his enthusiasm for the project an how he brought it to the Rotary Club along with Rich Marskey. 

“We were more than thrilled when we learned they wanted to build an entertainment shelter here in town,” Walling said in his speech about the dedication of the Grand Ledge Rotary Club to the community.

The family of the late Richard Hamill made a notable donation, and was given an honorary plaque at the venue for Hamill’s contributions to the community. Patrick Hamill spoke at the ceremony, representing his family and his father.

      “We all come into this world with a tremendous debt to society from what our forefathers and other people did before us. We know that from our parents in terms of what they would do here, in the community. It’s really nice to get back and see what this community is all about,” said Hamill.

Jaycee Park, spanning nearly six acres across the southwestern bank of the Grand River, has received a number of additions over the past few years including a boat launch and a splash pad. Grand Ledge should expect more additions in the coming years as there is a plan to expand the entire park to connect it to Fitzgerald Park.