Green space benefits Calumet community

MTU Archives A postcard from 1955 shows a somewhat romanticized, but accurate view of the former beauty of Agassiz Park in Calumet Village.

CALUMET — As the Village Council moves forward with creating a new green space on Fifth Street, it also has plans to revitalize Agassiz Park on Fourth Street.

Trustee Nathan Anderson said in an interview that he will soon be inviting village residents to volunteer for a clean-up effort in Agassiz Park, but it will be more involving this year than just picking up trash.

“What we’re going to do,” he said, “is rake out all the stamp sand. We’re going to rake out all the ruts. We’re clean up all the bare spots.”

Anderson said the Agassiz Park and Sac’s Lot projects are just part of an initiative this summer to make improvements to the town. The strategy involves initiating inexpensive and community-strengthening volunteer efforts, finding out about getting county work crews to paint curbs and crosswalks, and preparing the village for the upcoming Hockeyville events.

Village improvements, however, including parks, will have many far-reaching impacts on the village, as well as its residents, studies suggest. In addition to making the village more attractive to potential businesses, the parks also strengthen communities in ways not often considered by municipal residents.

Parks provide space for neighborhood residents to interact with each other, and also meet new people, Green Ribbon website states. They are also prime spaces for events and for people to engage in recreational activities.

“This allows people to develop a sense of community,” Green Ribbon states. “A park is perfect for a picnic, a concert, or a farmer’s market–whatever your community feels it needs.”

Studies have also shown that increasing the number of parks and recreational facilities also reduces crime rates, especially among youth. By giving young people a safe place to interact with one another, it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.

For example, many communities have created Midnight Basketball programs, keeping courts open late, which is drastically reducing youth crime rates. Similarly, when parks are used by many people, there are more eyes on the street, creating a safer environment for everyone.

Furthermore, according to a 2017 article by Kathleen L. Wolf, Ph.D., which appeared in the National Parks and Recreation’s monthly magazine, social capital is a critical condition for a host of community benefits which are formed from the interpersonal relationships of people, resulting supportive networks. The mere presence of landscape or trees appears to promote community connections.

A study that compared meditative and athletic walking in forest and indoor settings showed that in both environments meditative walking generated more positive psychological effects than athletic walking, Wolf wrote. Other investigators have found evidence of lower frustration and increased brain activity, resembling meditation, when moving in green space versus being in retail and commercial areas that have no trees.

Studies conducted on the benefits of green spaces suggest that in moving forward with simple and affordable spaces, such as a park on Fifth Street, and revitalizing Agassiz Park, in addition to extensive improvements to Calumet High School’s athletic field, will benefit the village in ways that few now realize.