By Allie Jarrell
Mason News staff writer
Mason City Administrator Martin Colburn discussed negotiations with the county staff concerning regaining ownership of the park last fall, but it wasn’t until May that an agreement was reached. The original closing was due to budget difficulties.
According to Colburn, the public had expressed concern over the loss of the park’s playgrounds, soccer and Little League fields, and the pavilion where family events took place. Some residents simply viewed it as a serene, quiet place to spend their time. Even citizens from other townships were calling for the agreement to be made.
“There was quite a bit of outcry,” Colburn said. “Other townships don’t share in the costs, so it was a challenge in that sense.”
Colburn also acknowledged that the reopening of the park wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for several generous donations. Philanthropist William Steele donated $50,000 because of historical Civil War connections his family has in Mason. Kevin Kruizenga, owner of Millennium Landscape and Lawncare in Mason, offered the services of his company for this first year after the reopening. According to Colburn, Kruizenga’s contribution was important because the city had not prepared for park maintenance in its budget.
“I volunteered my services when I found out that the park was closing and not reopening,” Kruizenga said. “I wrote a letter to the mayor and the City Council, volunteering to take care of the mowing and trimming of the park.”
Kruizenga, like many other Mason residents, had enjoyed spending time at Rayner Park before it was closed. His daughters, Mackenzie and Hailey, often played in soccer games on the fields there.
“My wife takes our daughters to the park two or three weeks out of the summer,” Kruizenga said. “It’s the nicest park in the Mason area, for sure. I don’t want to see it close, so if I had to donate further services I would.”
Rayner Park covers 60 acres and has three ponds, a mature woodlot with nature trails, lush vegetation, a native species garden, soccer fields, little league fields, a sand volleyball court, and a nine-hole Frisbee golf course. The park also offers picnic areas with grills and a 200-person pavilion which can be rented through City Hall.
“Take advantage of the park and support it, whether it’s in terms of volunteering time or resources to keep it going,” Colburn said, “and let elected officials know that their actions are appreciated.”
Rayner Park is located off of East Ash Street across from the Ingham County Fairgrounds and the Crestview Tack Shop. During the months of May through October, Rayner Park is open to the public daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park is open 8 a.m. to a half hour after sunset November through April.