FRESH START: Parks department breaks ground on new shelter house

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GREENFIELD – Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the Riley Park Shelter House in Greenfield will soon be born again.

Greenfield Parks and Recreation hosted a groundbreaking ceremony March 1 for the rebuilding of the shelter house, just south of the Pat Elmore Center at 280 N. Apple Street on the east side of Riley Park.

The original 85-year-old structure burned Dec. 28, 2022, and the building was deemed a total loss.

It had served as a community icon for decades, having been home to a wide assortment of events throughout the years.

The new shelter will strongly resemble the original building but feature a number of new upgrades, like an expanded kitchen and bathrooms.

Parks director Ellen Kuker said her staff was thrilled to be breaking ground after working the past 14 months to design a new structure and continuing to work through the insurance process.

“It’s quite the process to get a project like this off the ground,” she said.

“We’ve been working with insurance, we’ve secured the proper approvals and have secured funding to cover what the insurance company may not cover. It’s been a long road to get us to this point, but we celebrate the fact we’re finally here,” she said.

Greenfield’s mayor, Guy Titus, shared how significant the shelter house is to the community.

“When I moved to Greenfield when I was 11 years old, I lived right across the street from the park, and I ran around this area. We had family get-togethers (at the shelter house) over the years, and so it’s great to see it coming back after all this time,” he said. “I’m excited that it’s going to have some new updates while keeping much of the old look of the shelter house we all loved so much. I think it’s a great thing for our community.”

Kuker said the parks department will post construction updates on its social media pages so the community can watch the progress of rebuilding the beloved structure, which is expected to start next week.

“As heart-breaking as it was to lose the original shelter house, we hope the new structure can provide a space for many, many years to come where families can make new memories,” she said.

The parks department has launched a commemorative brick fundraiser called Give Me Shelter to support the rebuilding process.

The commemorative bricks will be placed in two gathering spaces outside the shelter house. Each brick costs $50, and includes a custom inscription.

Visit ParksinGreenfield.com for more details.