Saline Celebrated Upcoming Renovation with "Henne Field Day"
Residents of the Saline area and their families and friends attended “Henne Field Day,” a fun-filled community celebration – both nostalgic and forward-looking – ton Sunday, September 21 2008 at the historic Saline park on East Bennett Street.
Sponsoring the event were the Friends of Henne Field (www.hennefield.org), a group of community-minded volunteers dedicated to restoring the park to a more central role in day-to-day Saline living. The event celebrated the park’s 60 years (1948-2008) as a treasured community resource, while observing the kick-off of the park’s planned renovation.
“Henne Field has long been a key part of the Saline community,” said Paul Bunten, Saline’s chief of police and chairman of the Friends of Henne Field. “The park has hosted everything from Saline High School football games to the Saline Community Fair. It is our vision that Henne Field should be reborn with both yesterday and tomorrow in mind.”
Henne Field Day began with a ceremonial walk. Walkers set out from the parking lot of Historic Union School, then proceeded on E. McKay St. to Harris St., north to E. Bennett St., then west to Henne Field. The walk ended at a point near where a historic was soon be constructed to mark the renovated Henne Field’s new North Entry. There the Friends of Henne Field unveiled a sign showing the park’s restoration plan and telling how area residents can donate to help complete the project.
Following the walk and sign unveiling, Henne Field Day attendees enjoyed free hot dogs, ice cream, cotton candy, popcorn, and lemonade. The Saline Big Band and a barbershop quartet entertained. Antique cars, trucks, and tractors were displayed.
Also during Henne Field Day, the Wyandotte Stars Base Ball Club played baseball with vintage uniforms and equipment.
After the baseball game, Howard and Kelven Braun – whose H&K Braun Farm has been a Saline landmark for 100 years – plow parted of the playing surface, just as the Braun family and others helped prepare Henne Field for ball playing in 1948.
The renovated Henne Field will have two Little League Baseball fields, plus open greens for free-form recreation. A lighted walking trail edged by shady trees, comfortable benches, and classically designed lampposts will ring the park’s perimeter. The trail will also have a series of exercise stations, which together will provide a full-body workout.
Other park renovations will include a children’s play structure, a picnic area, and a large pavilion for family gatherings and musical performances. Ornamental fencing and brick walkways will add to the traditional town-square atmosphere.
Ample parking will be available at the renovated park’s North Entry on E. Bennett St. as well as the rotary-style East Entry on Owens Place. All park facilities will be handicapped accessible.
The land for Henne Field was donated to Saline Area Schools by the family of Edward Henne in 1948. Since then, the park has served as a meeting place for community events, a destination for children seeking a fun place to play, and a versatile venue for all kinds of sporting activities including baseball, football, soccer, ice skating, and the Saline Celtic Festival’s annual rugby tournament.
“Henne Field has served our community well,” said Bunten, “but now the park is in need of a thorough makeover to bring it back to the prominence it once held in our lives.”
Joining Bunten on the Friends of Henne Field board of directors are: Douglas Bacon, director of buildings and grounds for Saline Area Schools; Craig Hoeft, chief of the Saline Area Fire Department; David Rhoads, the founder and president of Saline-based Homeowner Services of America, Inc. (HSA; www.hsa-remodel.com) and First Design Cabinetry (FDC; www.fdc-kitchen.com) and a Saline City Council member; and Carla Scruggs, director of the Saline Parks and Recreation Department.
For the past year, the Friends of Henne Field have been raising funds for the park’s redevelopment. To date the group has raised about half of the total needed to complete the project. Per Rhoads, “We continue to apply for grants from various sources, and we are also now seeking donations, both large and small, from Saline-area residents.”
Major funding providers to date include Saline Area Schools CARES, The Judy Ivan Endowment, and the Saline Rotary Club.
In-kind donations have come from Gary L. Hahn, a Saline attorney; John Herrygers, retired vice president and principal in charge of the Southeast Michigan office of The Christman Company, one of the state’s leading construction contractors; and Rob Doehrer of Rhoades Doehrer & Associates, a Saline accounting firm.
Donations to the Henne Field redevelopment project may be made to: Friends of Henne Field, 199 W. Michigan Ave., Saline, MI 48176.