• Jordan D. Smith

Toan Park to Get Extreme Makeover


For years now Toan Park has been a favorite playground for area families. It’s not unusual to see dozens of young kids and parents at the park especially on warm summer evenings. It’s in easy walking distance of neighborhoods on both the east and west sides of town, and is near the River Trail. As well loved as Toan Park is, it’s about to get a whole lot better with a complete overhaul courtesy of the Portland Downtown Development Authority (DDA).


While the project envisions a complete reinvention of the park, the biggest change expected to garner the most attention is the addition of a splash pad water feature. “Our community has asked for a splash pad since 2014, and reaffirmed as a high priority a couple of years ago in the Parks survey. We're excited to fulfill this promise this summer 2021,” says DDA director Tina ConnerWellman. The current play structure is going to remain a part of the park but be relocated as part of the redesign along with the addition of new swings and a barrier free play surface. The plan also calls for the addition of a new larger picnic pavilion, outdoor fireplace, river overlook and additional shaded seating.


The DDA currently has $300,000 on hand to pay for the splash pad and is launching a fundraising effort to raise an additional $100,000 to support the remaining upgrades. According to ConnerWellman, “we can leverage more funds by showing the community is behind this project. With $100,000 in contributions, we can then match that with $150,000 to greatly enhance plans with a significant fire feature, a beautiful river overlook, an upgraded pavilion, and beautifully landscaped greenspace.” This means that every dollar donated by the community gets matched with $1.50 from DDA funds to multiply the impact. Under the DDA Tax Increment Financing (TIF) plan certain funds may be spent directly for capital improvements and others only for matching funds.


“With all that we’ve been through, all that we’ve lived through in this past year, now is definitely the time to come together in a meaningful way. These times have shown the need for more opportunities to be outdoors, and this project expands the park to use through more seasons,” says ConnorWellman.


The fundraising effort is set to kick off the end of March and run for 8 weeks through the end of May. ConnerWellman says that in light of the difficult times we have all experienced in the past year that giving to this community effort is a, “...way to rebuild what it means to be a citizen, and demonstrate how we all support each other….together, we can lean into change that’s good for all of us.”


The community is invited to contribute online at www.patronicity.com/riverpark or by sending contributions to City Hall (259 Kent St. Portland, MI 48875) payable to Portland DDA and Toan Park in the memo line. More information about giving to this project is available on the patronicity page including giving and recognition levels.


PHOTOS: Courtesy Portland DDA

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