Officials Discuss Renovation Plans for Voke Park Playground

Voke Park has always been a very popular recreational facility for the residents of Chelsea, especially those living in Prattville who can take a short walk and be there in minutes.

It’s the park where the Chelsea Youth Baseball League played all of its games after Merritt Park made way for the Mary C. Burke School Complex.

It’s where Ralphie Mondano would hit clouds-touching fly balls so local kids could practice catching them. It’s where local youth sports legends Joe Bevere Jr. and Paul Nowicki would match up on the diamond for their respective teams, Roy Butt would spray basehits everywhere (much to the delight of his father, the late Mr. Roy Butt, who would sit with friends down the left field line), and Rich Maronski would lead the Cubs to another title for manager Larry Notkin.

Voke Park, also home to well-maintained basketball and tennis courts, is about to get a newer look for the playground beyond the centerfield fence.

The City of Chelsea held a virtual community meeting with residents Tuesday night to discuss the design plan for construction at the Voke Park playground.

Ben Cares, planner and project manager for the Chelsea Planning and Development Department, is overseeing the renovation project that will rejuvenate the larger of the two playgrounds, located adjacent to the basketball court. The newly built playground will be for youths, ages 5 to 12.

Kaila Bachman, landscape architect for CBA Landscape Architects LLC, also had a prominent role in the discussion, walking through some of the more specific design elements of the projects such as the landscaping and how a preventative effort is being made to keep the mature trees that stand on the site alive and flourishing.

The $570,000 Voke Park renovation project is being mostly funded by a PARC Grant through the State Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Chelsea Planning and Department has successfully secured PARC grants for several years in a row, resulting in major improvements to Chelsea facilities.

“We plan to put the project out to bid later this summer, so we don’t have a selected contractor yet,” said Cares, adding that construction could start at Voke Park in the fall of 2020 or the spring of 2021.

District 1 Councillor Todd Taylor said he and his two children are frequent visitors to Voke Park. He enjoys pitching baseballs to his 10-year-old son there for batting practice.

“Voke Park is a great place and I’m glad they’re redoing the playground,” said Taylor. “The designs on the project look great and I’m excited that the park is getting a makeover.”

Taylor commended the Planning and Developement Department for their successful quest for grants. “It’s great to see Chelsea getting this grant money and updating our parks as we need to,” lauded Taylor.

Taylor was hoping to participate in the Voke Park virtual meeting Tuesday night but he was representing his District 1 constituents at a four-hour, city budget meeting where councillors were reviewing the Fiscal Year ‘21 budget.

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