A vision to revitalize Eau Claire’s Boyd Park is becoming clearer thanks to local volunteer and fundraising efforts. Workers from Xcel Energy and Zielie’s Tree Service spent a Friday in late April clearing excess vegetation from the bank of the Eau Claire River on the park’s north side, opening up access to what was a popular riverside spot decades ago. The buzz of chainsaws cutting fallen trees and invasive buckthorn and black locusts was the opening salvo of a multi-year project dubbed Boyd Park Plus.
“Having that space cleared now, people will definitely take notice,” said Chris Buske, chairman of the Boyd Park Plus subcommittee of the Eastside Hill Neighborhood Association Steering Committee.
According to the group, “The vision is to build a neighborhood green space offering neighbors of all ages an attractive area to play, stage events, gather, and celebrate.”
The next step in the Boyd Park Plus campaign is raising $10,000 to hire Eau Claire-based design firm Ayres Associates to create a conceptual plan for the park’s future. Once such a plan is prepared – which could be as early as this summer, depending on the pace of fundraising – the committee can begin pursuing state and federal grants to fund the more costly work of upgrading the neighborhood park. The fact the park is adjacent to an existing bike trail and a kayak-friendly river and is located in a lower-income area are all factors that will make it an attractive target for grants, Buske said.
In addition to adding river access, the Boyd Park Plus project is expected to include upgrading playground equipment, preserving the park’s ice skating rink, creating a community garden, improving the a prairie area, and more. To learn more about the project, to find out how you can help, and to make a donation, visit boydparkplus.com.