See the transformative power of the US EPA Brownfields Cleanup Program at one of Michigan’s most unique parks.
Once a sprawling state hospital complex, the Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City, Michigan, is the largest mixed-use brownfield project in the state. Historic Barns Park is part of that story.
The park had been a working farm that fed patients and staff of the former Traverse City State Hospital (1885-1989). In 2004, voters in Traverse City and Garfield Charter Township joined together to pass a ballot measure to purchase the abandoned hospital farm for use as a public park, under the management of a newly created joint Recreational Authority.
After more than 100 years of intensive use, the entire former hospital site, including the old farm, was a known “brownfield,” an area that would require some environmental cleanup in order to be fully reutilized and enjoyed by the public. In 2013, the Recreational Authority — on its second try — was awarded a US EPA Brownfield Cleanup Grant to finish the environmental cleanup at the park and clear the way for the site’s rebirth.
Under the guidance of The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority and an ambitious public vision, Historic Barns Park is now home to a public event venue (The Cathedral Barn, http://www.historicbarnspark.com) and three nonprofit partners, including the burgeoning Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park (http://thebotanicgarden.org); SEEDS (agricultural and green-collar workforce training, http://www.ecoseeds.org); and the verdant plots of TC Community Garden (http://tccommunitygarden.org). Located just two miles from the heart of downtown Traverse City, the park is also a favorite respite for hikers, bikers and nature lovers of all kinds.
On your next visit to Traverse City, stop by Historic Barns Park and see for yourself the transformative power of brownfield cleanup in Michigan communities.
US Environmental Protection Agency
The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority
Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority