229 West Michigan Avenue
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
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Park Place Renovation
The Ypsilanti District Library’s renovated park plaza located adjacent to its Michigan Avenue facility was dedicated on Sunday, May 21, 2006.
Initiated in 2002 by the YDL Board of Trustees, the park project was developed as a downtown oasis, a place where Ypsilanti residents might linger, play chess on game tables, drink coffee, read library materials, and generally enjoy the feel of Ypsilanti, the newly designated “cool city.” The park also makes it possible for library-sponsored programs to take place outdoors. A special outdoor story time area was created at the back of the park complete with child sized seating in the shape of books.
During the design phase, a community steering committee considered a variety of park theme suitable for a space to be used by all ages and consistent with Ypsilanti values. The theme of “individuals who made a difference” seemed a natural fit. One of the local figures celebrated is Patsy Chandler, who devoted herself to securing funds for the park’s fountain which is now beautifully re-clad in mosaic glass tiles. Elijah McCoy is also recognized by a historical marker for his patented lubricating devices which led to the origin of the phrase “the real McCoy.” As the community steering committee began its search for an appropriate piece of outdoor art for the park plaza, members were united in their enthusiasm for renowned Colorado sculptor Jane DeDecker’s life size bronze sculpture of Harriet Tubman. Tubman’s critical role in leading over 300 slaves to freedom and Ypsilanti’s recognized involvement in the Underground Railroad made this a perfect choice for the park’s centerpiece.
The renovation of the park plaza was made possible by the Friends of YDL, the Downtown Development Authority, Pfizer, and a variety of local fund-raising efforts.
Michigan Avenue Renovation in 2002
The renovation met many challenges from lead and asbestos abatement to cracked, leaking roof drains before real restoration could begin. The old ceiling, the old floor tile, and the roof were removed and replaced. New wiring, drywall, and heating/cooling unit were installed. The exterior was cleaned. A handicapped accessible ramp was added to the front entrance. The library reopened in April 2003.