Art, recreational attraction coming to park

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Greenfield artist Rachel Holmes, who painted this utility box at Depot Street Park, will add her artistic touch to a new four-sided ricochet wall to be constructed at Brandywine Park in the spring.

Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Parks Department recently landed a $7,000 grant to create a four-sided ricochet wall at Brandywine Park that will serve as both an art installation and recreation station.

The 16-by-12-foot wide wall will replace an aging chain link fence that surrounds a utility box which sits alongside a paved trail leading back to the park’s softball fields.

A utility box surrounded by chain link fence at Greenfield’s Brandywine Park will soon be encased by a 16-by-12-foot wide ricochet wall that will serve as part art installation, part recreation station, where kids and adults can practice their soccer skills by kicking a ball off the structure. The Greenfield Parks Department is creating the wall with a $7,000 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation.  Shelley Swift | Daily Reporter

“Right now the area around the utility box is just dead grass and fencing, but we’re going to beautify the area and give kids a fun place to hang out,” said Alexis Warren, the parks department’s program and event specialist.

Warren said the wall will feature murals and games painted by local artist Rachel Holmes, who is in the process of painting murals on all six utility boxes at Depot Street Park. Holmes also teaches art classes through the parks department.

Warren said part of the ricochet wall’s artwork will include a tic-tac-toe board children can use by kicking a soccer ball into spaces on a game board.

“The wall will add another component of healthy play by giving children the opportunity to keep their minds and bodies occupied while at the park,” said Warren.

“Whether they’re playing (in the soccer and softball leagues) or waiting on a sibling to finish a game, this will give them a fun place to hang out and stay active,” she said.

Becki Prigg, president of the Greenfield Area Soccer Club, expects the new wall to be a popular feature at the park where the league’s 1,500 members play.

“Our players love to kick the ball into a rebounding structure regardless of their age,” said Prigg, who appreciates the park’s overall aesthetic.

“Brandywine Park is such a beautiful and unique space within the community,” she said.

Warren said the wall will give children and adults the chance to practice their soccer skills while providing a great pop of color and art for all to enjoy.

Parks department staff will build the wood panels of the four-sided ricochet wall over the winter, and Holmes will paint them in time for them to be installed in the spring.

The project is being funded entirely by a $7,000 grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation. The funds came out of the foundation’s Public Art Fund, which supports the creation of public art throughout Hancock County.

Warren initially set out to seek funding to create a “staple art piece” in each of the city’s major parks,”but that would have been a lot of money,” she said.

While she hopes to eventually make that goal a reality, Warren is thrilled to focus for now on the creation of the ricochet wall at Brandywine Park.

“It will be a really great-looking piece and a lot of fun as well,” she said.