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Hope rises for Northern Township Park

When news started to surface a few years ago about parts of Northern Township being annexed into the city, my parents, who live in Northern Township, weren’t happy. They were nervous about their property taxes rising and how being considered in the city limits would affect them.

As the time neared when their neighborhood on Algoma Street would officially become inside city limits, their thought process changed, and as a family we started to become excited that this change would mean Northern Township Park, which has been abandoned by Northern Township, would now be managed by the City’s Park Department.

The park, whose ground breaking many years ago made the paper with headlines of “Park is Labor of Love,” holds a special place in my family’s heart. The park was a vision of my grandfather, Vern Skretvedt, who has now passed away. Skretvedt, along with my family and his wife (my grandmother), who has also passed away, built the park.

We spent an entire summer building benches, putting together the playground, hanging swings up, installing basketball hoops, stretching tennis nets and putting down bases. I still remember the look on my grandpa’s face when he saw the first family come to the park—it showed a feeling of fulfillment and pure delight.

That first family was the first of many to use the park. Even years later, there isn’t a summer night that I can remember where I didn’t hear a game of basketball taking place, the “swoosh” of a tennis racket, or “crack” of a baseball being hit.

Today, the park consists of busted benches, missing bases, a neglected basketball court, sagging tennis nets and a barbeque area not fit for barbequing. Every time I come home I look at the park and it breaks my heart—my parents have to look at it out their front window every day.

On June 12, the city officially took over ownership of the park, which put a smile on my face and gives me hope that this park, which should be renamed Skretvedt Park, can once again be a beautiful place for families to gather and make memories.