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October 3, 2013

Public invited to 'Walk in the Park' at Commons

TRAVERSE CITY — The public is invited to admire all that’s new around the big, old barns at the Grand Traverse Commons.

A “Walk in the Park” event on Saturday will provide a behind-the scenes look at the redevelopment of the former Traverse City State Hospital into a unique 56-acre, multi-use public park.

Visitors will get an exclusive sneak peak at the extensive remodeling of a former farm granary into the new Visitor Center, which officially opens next spring. The Visitor Center will serve as the home base for the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park and be a meeting place for garden clubs and classes. It also will be available for rent for small events, such as weddings, said Matt Cowall, executive director of the Recreational Authority.

The park’s transformation also includes demolition and environmental work on several park buildings, a new geothermal heating and cooling system for the massive Cathedral Barn, and a commuter trail that stretches the length of the park.

Long-term, the park will include a world-class botanic garden with pools, canals, sitting areas and a labyrinth, designed by Warren Byrd, a nationally renowned landscape architect.

Docents and representatives from park programs will be on hand throughout the event to give tours and answer questions. Maps and directions for self-guided tours also will be available.

The four-hour event begins at 10 a.m., with welcoming remarks and an overview of the park, agriculture, and community gardens starting at 10:30 a.m.

The park is owned and managed by the joint Traverse City/Garfield Township Recreational Authority, with management and programming assistance from two community nonprofit organizations, the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park and SEEDS.

Historic Barns Park sits on the northwest corner of the intersection of Silver Lake Road and Franke Road/Silver Drive. Day-of-event parking is available at the nearby Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District (TBAISD) on Red Drive or at Copper Ridge. Shuttles will be available between the park and TBAISD. For more information, visit or call (231) 929-3696.

All pledged donations for this effort are being matched dollar for dollar. To give, please call the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation at (231) 935-4066 or visit

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