Playground in the Park Re-Imagined Honorary Chair Suzy Merchant Talks About the Project

On February 26th Sponsors, Community Members and Rotarians gathered at the Hannah Community Center for a Park Project Briefing for Playground in the Park Re-Imagined. East Lansing Mayor, Nathan Triplett, Parks and Recreation Director Tim McCaffery, Project Chairperson John Saltzgaber, and Honorary Chairperson were on hand to give the attendees an update and forecast for the community build date in June of 2014.

Honorary Chairperson, Suzy Merchant delighted the crowd with her personal feelings about Patriarche Park, the project, and the power of play.

Project Chairperson, John Saltzgaber outlined the remaining opportunities for sponsors, community support through the purchase of brick pavers and participation in the Community Charity Challenge called the Big Bangquet.

You may also view the video on YouTube.

Suzy Merchant Radio Show

MSU Women’s Basketball coach Suzy Merchant announced her role as Honorary Chairperson of our Playground in the Park: Re-Imagined project yesterday. You can read all of press, and our original press release by clicking the links (they appear below the pictures from the event).

(East Lansing Rotary President Tim McCaffrey, MSU Women’s Basketball Coach Suzy Merchant, and EL Rotary President Elect Nathan Triplett)

(EL Rotary Members and Suzy Merchant, L to R: Gary Danbrook, Katie Donovan, Susan Schmidt, Past President John Saltzgaber, Suzy Merchant, Past President Kevin Gray, Past President Jackson Kaguri, and James Folkening)
Read about the project below!

MSU Coach Suzy Merchant Chairs Patriarche Park Playground Project

East Lansing, MI – The East Lansing Rotary Club and City of East Lansing are pleased to announce that MSU Women’s basketball Coach Suzy Merchant will be leading the effort to replace the wooden playground structure at East Lansing’s Patriarche Park. “We’re so happy to have Coach Merchant Chair the Playground Committee,” said East Lansing Rotary President Tim McCaffrey. “My children have really enjoyed playing at Patriarche Park, so I’m really excited about being a part of this effort to build a new playground at the park for children and their families to enjoy,” said Coach Suzy Merchant.


(rendering of park play structure concept)


In 1995, the Rotary Club of East Lansing spearheaded the construction of the wooden playground structure at the park. Over the past sixteen years, the playground has been enjoyed by literally thousands of school-aged children and their families. However, heavy use of the facility, along with Michigan’s weather has taken its toll on the structure. The playground renovation originally slated for the fall of 2011 was interrupted when planners became aware that CCA pressure-treated wood was used to build the original playground structure in 1995. While it’s believed the playground is safe and that CCA levels are not harmful, the Rotary Club and City of East Lansing decided that it is more practical to raze the current structure and build a new playground.


“Replacing the existing structure with a completely new one, utilizing the latest in materials and technology, gives us a unique opportunity to create a playground that is more accessible, especially for children with physical disabilities; incorporates the latest safety standards; and provides features promoting physical fitness,” stated Rotary Club President Tim McCaffrey. The planned rebuild of the playground structure will use materials expected to last 25-30 years, or more.


A series of community meetings have been scheduled at the Hannah Community Center on Abbot Rd. in East Lansing. Information about the preliminary concepts for the playground will be shared and public input will be sought about what the future playground structure might look like. Following are the meeting dates and times:

Thursday, February 23rd 7:00 pm
Tuesday, March 6th 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 10th 10:00 am



The Rotary Club of East Lansing was chartered in 1961 and celebrated its 50thyear of service last September. In addition to the playground project, the Club has helped spearhead a number of projects in the community, including: building the East Lansing “splash pad,” renovating the facilities and replacing the boiler at Haven House; and supporting a number of programs provided by non-profit agencies.


(click image for a larger view)