2013-08-02 / News

Peace Garden Plans, Decrease in Traffic Are Topics for Park Commission

By Samantha Radecki


At right: Mackinac Island State Park Commissioners (from left) Karen Karam, Frank Kelley, William Deary, Chuck Yob, William Marvin, Mary Callewaert, and Richard Manoogian at the commission meeting Friday, July 26, at the Post Hospital Administration Building Board Room. At right: Mackinac Island State Park Commissioners (from left) Karen Karam, Frank Kelley, William Deary, Chuck Yob, William Marvin, Mary Callewaert, and Richard Manoogian at the commission meeting Friday, July 26, at the Post Hospital Administration Building Board Room. At the Mackinac Island State Park Commission meeting Friday, July 26, commissioners agreed with the notion behind a Peace Garden in Marquette Park, discussed ways to increase traffic at the park’s paid sites, approved many historical artifacts into the park’s museum collection, and elected to keep Chuck Yob as chairman, Richard Manoogian as vice chairman, and Karen Karam as secretary.

At the meeting, landscaper Jack Barnwell led a discussion and explained preliminary plans for a Peace Garden that would be installed behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum at Marquette Park. The garden would represent the longstanding peaceful relationship between the United States and Canada since the end of the War of 1812, Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Phil Porter said.


The circular Peace Garden will have three flower beds with indigenous Mackinac Island plants, a white-bricked open area with seating, and a statue in the center. The garden will be behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum in Marquette Park. (Image courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks) The circular Peace Garden will have three flower beds with indigenous Mackinac Island plants, a white-bricked open area with seating, and a statue in the center. The garden will be behind the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum in Marquette Park. (Image courtesy of Mackinac State Historic Parks) “Throughout the commemoration of the War of 1812, we’ve focused a lot and paid tribute to many of the traumatic conflicts, the battles — that side of the war and its impact on Mackinac,” Mr. Porter said. “The purpose of creating the Peace Garden is to provide an attractive and restful gathering place to celebrate the fact that we’ve now had peace with Canada for two centuries. We share the longest unguarded border in the world.”

Mr. Barnwell said the shapes of the garden are designed as vesica piscis, a shape with two intersecting circles joining to become one, which in this garden could be perceived as the United States and Canada. Three lens-shaped spaces will be the garden beds, the open “y” shape in the middle is to be brick, and in the center will be a sculpture. He said there would be spaces for benches and the garden would be handicap accessible. The masonry work would be stone and mortar painted white.

“The look would be really, really stunning,” Mr. Barnwell said. It can be “a place where people can comfortably relax and have lunch and enjoy the peaceful setting that we’re creating.”

The circular garden would have three beds with indigenous Mackinac Island plants, such as trillium and lady’s-slipper, and a world-class sculpture in the center reflecting the peace theme. Mr. Barnwell said a large maple tree near the site would stay, and two more would be planted to create a shaded canopy for the site. There is also potential for black wrought iron archways to be installed at the garden’s en- trances, Mr. Barnwell said. The area is on a slope, but grading will level it.

Construction will cost approximately $100,000 and the sculpture could cost an additional $30,000 to $40,000. There is already about $40,000 set aside for this project in memory of Bill and Lornie Porter, Mr. Porter’s parents, who passed away last year, Mr. Porter said.

In the latest strategic plan approved by the commission in 2012, Mr. Porter said, the creation of the peace garden was a potential War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration project. Commissioners were optimistic and supportive of the ideas behind the project and its success

“One of the things we undersell on this Island is the flowers and the gardens,” Mr. Manoogian said, “so [I am in favor of] anything we can do to create more gardens in public spaces. I think this is a real plus and a real draw to the Island.”

Construction is slated to begin this fall and continue next summer. The garden would be dedicated

July 18, 2015, the bicentennial of the United States’ return to Fort Mackinac after the war.

Commissioners also addressed ways to increase foot traffic at the park’s paid sites. Mackinac State Historic Parks attendance through June 12 was down 4.67% and attendance income was down 3.74%, compared to last year. These decreases are the results of “unseasonably cold, wet, and foggy” weather in May and June, Mr. Porter said. With better weather in early July, attendance has increased.

Mr. Yob said understanding attendance at Fort Mackinac begins with considering total attendance on Mackinac Island, which was about 771,000 people last year. Of that, about 200,000 went to Fort Mackinac.

“There are two areas to pick up;” Mr. Yob said, “first of all, the number of people coming to the Island and second of all, the number of people that go through our forts. When you have 771,000 people coming to the Island and you have less than 200,000 going through the fort, we’ve got some good [potential] customers there, and we need to figure out ideas” to get them to the fort.

Mr. Yob asked the commissioners to brainstorm ideas to tackle this problem. Marketing to student groups, corporate businesses, or anyone who wouldn’t necessarily come to Mackinac Island were suggested.

Mr. Yob also wants to focus on increasing attendance at Mill Creek near Mackinaw City.

“I think the board will come back with some very creative ideas,” Mr. Porter said. The next Mackinac Island State Park Commission meeting is Friday, September 27.

The commission also adopted 34 new additions into the park’s permanent historical collections. Mackinac State Historic Parks Deputy Director Steve Brisson showed the commission three pieces that were proposed for acquisition. The items were a Grand Hotel dinner menu from 1910, a 1947 pressbook in pristine condition from the movie “This Time for Keeps,” shot on Mackinac Island in 1946, and a press photograph of President Gerald Ford visiting May’s Candy Shop to purchase fudge in 1975. Because May’s had two entrances on different sides, the secret service deemed that shop safe to enter, Mr. Brisson said.

“This was when President Ford came out of Trinity Church that day he attended service there and he got out of the church and said, ‘I’m going to go buy some fudge,’” he said. “This event was not on the agenda so he threw the secret service into panic, and they had to run down the main street and find an appropriate secure fudge shop.”

Mr. Brisson said about $4,000 is budgeted each year for collections acquisition.

The commission also approved two of Mackinac Island Airport’s projects, the installation of Primary Airport Control Stations and Secondary Airport Control Stations, which are permanent survey markers in an airport’s vicinity used as reference points, and the airport’s operational cost of $35,000. This covers electricity, equipment, maintenance, and other expenses.

Also approved was Dan Dunnigan’s lease renewal, William and Elizabeth Murcko’s sublease application, and use permit renewals with William K. Chambers and James P. Chambers, Loretta Cowell, Curt and Judy Munson, and Debra and Sandra Orr. The use permits are necessary for residents who have properties with minor encroachment on park property.

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