Park that Jack Built
The TIMES Magazine, Issue #44, June 2004
several weekends this spring, I altered my usual Saturday routine
by cycling from Walkerville to Cameron at Riverside Drive to help
with a most unusual project. Along with several other volunteers,
we were building a park.
2001, local realtor Jack Renner has been converting a small plot
of railroad land at Cameron and Riverside Drive. The railroad calls
it “The International Gateway Garden” but it is really,
“the Park that Jack Built.”
by the late Bert Weeks, former mayor of Windsor and a long-time
friend, Renner is adding to the many parks that are part of Weeks’
legacy. Area residents, the department of Parks and Recreation and
local businesses have all played a role in building the park; Jack
has donated his own time and money. The park has been developed
at almost no cost to the taxpayer!
supplies or funding have been donated by Green Shield, Deerbrook
Realty, Jim Regnier, PreDawn Nursery, Al’s Yardwork, Nick,
Joe and Tony Mandato, Wendy Murkar, and The Jobs Tunnel (DRTP).
include Alan Berger, Tony and Elizabeth Thomas, George Sofo, Chuck
Faubert, Alex Laframboise, Don Sadler, Mitch and Ren Oncea, Brian
Lazarus, Victor and Louise Rea, and Ruth and Tony and Dawn.
park continues to be a work in progress. Jack Renner would also
like to see the old railway cut developed but feels he has played
following is from local author Rick Beneteau’s book, “A
Large Slice of Life to Go, Please!” (Tikibooks, 2003) –
stories from the heart and for the heart. Visit Rick’s website
believe that a few caring people can’t change the world, for
indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Margaret Mead
arrive daily. Sometimes a single labourer but most often a crew
of a half dozen. They dig, they shovel dirt, they pour sand, they
lay interlocking block, and they move large boulders and small blocks
and logs. Finally, they plant ornamental trees and shrubs.
my 9th floor balcony where I often bring my laptop to write, I gaze
out at the magnificent Detroit skyline and watch large lake freighters
and pleasure boats pass by. I also watch the thousands of daily
visitors walk, bike and rollerblade along the trail in the riverpark.
it is what is happening directly below me, on a small piece of turf
that holds my attention these days. What was once an empty, muddy
lot is being transformed into a beautiful rock garden – stone
by stone, plant by plant, day by day.
witnessed these landscapers tear down a recently built small section
simply to change its shape. They are obviously following a design
but what was once on paper requires adjustments to the plan –
to make it better.
morning, while enjoying the sunrise with my coffee, I noticed that
someone had destroyed a section built the night before. I took this
rather personally and was angry with the thoughtless vandal who
chose to destroy this work in progress. I didn’t happen to
witness the crew’s reaction to the destruction but when I
looked down later that day, the damage had been repaired and a new
section was being worked on.
most impressive thing about this project is that most of these workers
take time to stand back and admire their work in progress. In fact,
the leader of this crew – the one who shows up alone on certain
days, is always the last to leave.
I’m too far away to see the details of his face, I believe
that when he takes a long, last look before he leaves in the evening,
it’s beaming with pride.
emerging rock garden is a perfect example of the balance we all
need in our lives. Time to plan, time to work, time to spend with
those we love, time to adjust, time to rebuild and time to sit back,
admire and be proud of all that we have accomplished.
was once a patch of mud has become a place of beauty that will impact
thousands of people in a most wonderful way.
ask, shouldn’t our lives be like the building of a rock garden?