FFHL raises funds for PEACE Park updates
In early January, around 30 PEACE Park founders and friends gathered to hear details about, and give feedback on, new park plans. Coventry PEACE Park is a beloved gathering place in Cleveland Heights, and Heights Libraries is committed to its revitalization.
For the past 10 years, the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL) has raised funds to support Heights Libraries’ buildings and services. FFHL is now focused on raising funds to make Coventry PEACE Park a safe, fun, and accessible green space for people of all ages and abilities.
“Now, more than ever, we want to encourage community. The PEACE Park is a focal point of Coventry, where the community can gather and share in play and festivities,” said Jackie Nachman, FFHL president. “We are looking toward the future of our libraries, and revitalizing Coventry PEACE Park will make a positive impact on the Coventry library branch and the surrounding community.”
The original playground was designed by landscape architect Jim McKnight with input from local children, and built by community volunteers, led by parents from the former Coventry school. Their mission was to "create a multi-purpose public park that would serve all the neighborhood’s children and families.” On a rainy day in October 1993, the volunteer group built the one-of-a-kind playground.
Many involved in the original fundraising and construction of the park describe it as one of the best community-led efforts they have ever been a part of.
Since acquiring the park in 2018, Heights Libraries replaced benches, organized park cleanups, planted trees, and installed new dog clean-up stations. The park remains a place for community events, including movie nights hosted by the Coventry Village Special Improvement District, Eco Fairs hosted by the Cleveland Heights Green Team, performances by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, the Pekar Park Comic Book Fest, Coventry PEACE Campus Inc.’s Chalk Festival, and many of the libraries’ outdoor programs.
"The mission, vision, and values of the library, which see us fulfilling community aspirations, motivated us to acquire the PEACE Park as a well-loved community asset for people of all ages,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “We are excited to update the park for future generations.”
A full civic engagement process, including surveys and public meetings with landscape architects Drew Sargeant and Jim McKnight, revealed that the community wants the park to reflect nature. New features will include safety and accessibility features as well as a new shaded walking path, performance stage, playground, half-court basketball, and a reading garden. More than 60 new trees, a large pollinator garden, interpretive signs, and rainwater biofiltration will be featured throughout the park. As of February 2023, the FFHL is over halfway to its $1.2 million goal to rebuild the park.
Thirty years after the original construction, the park remains a community asset. But the park needs the support of the community to thrive. The FFHL encourages all to get involved. Contact Heights Libraries to record your stories for its PEACE Park local history collection, or spread the word about FFHL’s fundraising efforts. Additional information is available online at https://bit.ly/FFHLPeacePark.
Kaela Sweeney is the strategic projects manager for Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.