LAKEVIEW — Since the 1950s, the Lincoln family home stood at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street in Lakeview. Surrounded by stately maple trees and situated on the west edge of Lakeside Park, it was one of the nicer-looking homes on the block.
In July, that house came down after being purchased by the village with Downtown Development Authority funds to make way for the expansion of the park. The demolition upset a few village residents until they learned the park expansion is exactly what the Lincoln family wanted, particularly Ruby Lincoln, the last of the Lincoln clan to reside there.
According to Lakeview Village Manager James Freed, Ruby had expressed her desire to see the park develop onto her property once she passed away.
“I sat with her on the porch and talked with her about it,” Freed said. “She was all for it.”
Already a pleasant green space at the center of the community, the removal of the Lincoln home and annexation of the adjacent yard nearly doubles the space available for community activities.
The demolition represents the first phase of a long-range park improvement plan. Within the next two years, planners hope to remove a half-block-long section of Sixth Street and replace it with grass and trees.
“Eventually, we want to make it all green space down there,” Freed said. “We’d like to put in a new amphitheater and build a small band shell for bands to play during our summertime Music in the Park concert series.”
The playground equipment on the north side of the park, installed only a few years ago, will remain.
Many village residents and officials have long seen the park’s potential. This most recent effort is not the first time improvements have been attempted.
Over a decade ago, the village trucked in tons of sand and a new liner to improve the quality of the beach, but due to a lack of water flow around the beach area, weeds eventually returned and the liner bubbled to the surface. The current plan calls for far more extensive efforts to reshape the beach front, which planners hope will provide a more permanent solution to the problem and create a beautiful public beach.
“That park is a gem,” Freed said. “But it’s currently under-utilized. We’ve made it all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, the playground is accessible. That’s Lakeview’s No. 1 natural resource and we’re trying to incorporate that into our overall plan by making that park more appealing and more accessible to more people.”
Freed added the park is currently responsible for bringing at least a couple hundred people into town each week who might not otherwise visit. With the planned improvements, planners hope to see that amount increase exponentially.
“Baldwin Lake in Greenville is kind of a model for us,” Freed said. “We’re hoping to make it like that eventually, with community support, but it’s going to take some time.”