With more than $200,000 in recent improvements for Hayden Park, the park’s staff is looking to attract larger crowds than ever to the recreation spot, according to Hayden Park Fitness and Recreation Director Bill Lundberg.
Lundberg, one of the driving forces behind the improvements to the park, helped make the decision to allocate funds to a 100-by 140-meter grass field, which was completed three weeks ago. The area consists of two full-sized soccer fields and a smaller practice field. The Hillsdale College men’s and women’s club soccer teams, intramural teams, and the Hillsdale Academy soccer teams will use the fields for practices and games. Lundberg said he would also like to use the field for rugby.
The field alone used $170,000 of the $200,000 total spent on the improvements. Lundberg and the park staff said they hope to add stadium lights to the field in the near future.
Hayden Park is a favorite leisure spot for many Hillsdale College and Hillsdale Academy students as well as local residents. Although the park has seen its share of minor improvements since its inception, Lundberg said park staff have been looking to make more major upgrades for some time.
Before the recent improvements to the park, and before the park itself existed, the plan for the bare 190-acre plot was to build an exclusive community of houses and apartments. The housing was advertised as “a retirement community that values intelligence, integrity, and independence,” as stated in the original designs. Before construction began, however, Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn and the college’s Board of Trustees decided to use the land to build a park and a cross-country course. Hayden Park’s construction began in 2008 and opened to students and residents in 2011.
More improvements to the park include grooming the disk-golf targets and the mountain bike trails, the addition of a new putting green, and general improvements to the driving range and golf practice course as a whole.
“When we can provide more offerings for students, it allows students with all sorts of different interests to gather together and experience this unique environment,” said Ashlyn Landherr, director of Student Activities Board.
Many different organizations within the Hillsdale community use Hayden Park.
“Hayden Park provides a much larger field for us to play sports like flag football and soccer,” said junior Jacob Sievers, member of the Campus Recreation club.
Lundberg said Hayden serves as home for the freshman icebreaker event, He takes pride in the fact that there are no gates at the entrance, no rental fees for any of the facilities or equipment, and of the general open-door policy for members of the Hillsdale community. The park is often used as a location for events hosted by Hillsdale organizations including the GOAL Program, SAB, and others. These events can range from cookouts to bonfires to fundraisers. Hayden Park has also been used as a classroom of sorts for the Wilderness Survival class taught by Associate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers and Joe Kellam.
The Hayden Park improvements also included the relocation of, and the inscription upon, a boulder placed near the new fields. This 16-ton boulder is marked with the Hillsdale “H” logo as well as a short mission statement for the college and the athletics program.
Hayden Park is also the location of the annual Wild Bill’s Homecoming Fun Run, which took place for the last time on Sept. 22, during homecoming weekend, according to Lundberg, and the Color Run, hosted by SAB.
Lundberg and Hayden Park staff work to ensure that the park is kept in good shape so the Hillsdale community may enjoy all it has to offer.