Scottville park and sculpture fundraiser kicks off with $50k match. 

July 15, 2021

Scottville park and sculpture fundraiser kicks off with $50k match. 

SCOTTVILLE — The Scottville Optimist Park and Sculpture Project fundraiser officially kicked off Thursday afternoon with the pledge of the Pennies from Heaven Foundation to match up to $50,000 in contributions. To help with the announcement, the Scottville Clown Band donated $6,000 toward the project, which doubled with the match.

Scottville Downtown Development Chairman Joe Knowles said the project has been five years in the planning, which started with the Scottville Optimist Club making the decision to sell its building and also when the Mason County Cultural Economic Committee’s requested that Scottville join the Mason County Sculpture Trail. 

“The project will be a complete revitalization of the current property and building and include modernization and development of the green space,” Knowles said. “The park will be a public gathering place. The Scottville Clown Band Shell will host performing arts events, movies, and other events free to the public and community. The building will continue to be rented for the hosting of private events such as weddings and private meetings. The building will be updated to make the use of outdoor green space part of the appeal and overall desirability of the space.”:

The estimated cost of the project is about $500,000. Knowles said the majority of those funds will come from private donations. The Scottville Optimist Club, to date, has made the largest contribution by selling the building and property to the DDA for half its appraised value, Knowles, who is also the president of the Optimist Club, said. 

Dr. Bill Anderson, who chairs the Mason County Cultural Economic Committee, said by placing the sculpture on the property, Scottville will join the Mason County Sculpture Trail and also the Music Trail that includes Mason and Lake counties. Anderson said the county’s sculptures have become world renowned and attract visitors to the county. 

The sculpture, titled “Forward March” will be an interactive sculpture designed and sculpted by local artist, writer, and filmmaker Harold Cronk and a collaborative team of artists. 

“This sculpture will be unique among any other sculpture on the trail,” Rob Alway, treasurer of the Scottville Clown Band and mayor pro-tem, said. “Mr. Cronk wants to create a sculpture that pays tribute to the Scottville Clown Band and Scottville’s agricultural heritage. He also wants the sculpture to be something that is memorable for adults and children alike. Its bigger-than-life figures will actually move and kids will be encouraged to play on the sculpture.” 

The sculpture will include multiple figures located at various locations in the park.

Alway spoke about the history of the town and the Clown Band.

Forward March! By Harold Cronk

“Scottville, like many small towns in America, has experienced its economic challenges over the past 30 years,” Alway said. “With big box stores and corporate restaurants just five miles away, the town’s business district has changed. Many of us who live in and love Scottville are hopeful that this project will bring a new sense of pride in the community and spark a new direction. Scottville will never be what it used to be, but it doesn’t mean it still can’t be a great town to live in and to visit. This building and park project is a great step in the right direction.”

Knowles said the DDA is proposing to refinance its previously committed $51,189 to include the difference of $400,000 for a total of $451,189. He said the DDA is seeking a 15 year loan. Those funds will be replaced as private donations are brought in. The DDA is funded through a special tax capture under state statute that dedicates those funds for economic development. 

“This project is vital to the re-development of Scottville,” Knowles said, adding that rentals of the renovated hall will help fund future DDA projects. 

To contribute to the project, checks may be sent to the Community Foundation for Mason County, PO Box 10, Ludington, MI 49431. Write “Scottville Project” in the memo line. Donations may also be made online here. Click on the menu item “Give” and Scottville Optimist Park & Sculpture Fund. 

Concept drawing of the project

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