In last month’s Heights Observer issue, Erick Kauffman, a former President of Coventry PEACE and current board member of the Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL), wrote a love story about Coventry PEACE Park. In early January, around 30 PEACE Park founders and friends gathered to hear details and give feedback about the new park plans. The stories throughout the community prove that Coventry PEACE Park is a beloved gathering place in Cleveland Heights, and Heights Libraries is committed to its revitalization.
For the past ten years, the FFHL has raised funds to support Heights Libraries’ buildings and services. The FFHL is now focused on raising funds to make Coventry PEACE Park a safe, fun, and accessible green space for people of all ages and abilities.
“Now, more than ever, we want to encourage community. The PEACE Park is a focal point of Coventry, where the community can gather and share in play and festivities,” said Jackie Nachman, president of the FFHL. “We are lookingtowards the future of our libraries, and revitalizing Coventry PEACE Park will make a positive impact on the Coventry library branch and the surrounding community.”
The original playground was designed by landscape architect Jim McKnight with input from local children and built by community volunteers, led by parents from the former Coventry School. Their mission was to “create a multi-purpose public park that would serve all the neighborhood’s children and families.” On a rainy day in October 1993, the volunteer group built the one-of-a-kind playground we know and love today. Many of the people involved in the original fundraising and construction of the park describe it as one of the best community-led efforts they have ever been a part of.
Since obtaining the PEACE Park in 2018, the Library replaced benches, organized park clean-ups, planted trees, and installed new dog clean-up stations. The park remains a place for community events such as movie nights hosted by the Coventry Improvement District, Eco Fairs hosted by the Cleveland Heights Green Team, performances by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival, the Pekar Park Comic Book Fest, Coventry PEACE Campus, Inc.’s Chalk Festival, and many of the Libraries’ outdoor programs and events.
“The mission, vision, and values of the Library, which see us fulfilling community aspirations, motivated us to acquire the PEACE Park as a well-loved community asset for people of all ages,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “We are excited to update the park for future generations.”
A full civic engagement process, including surveys and public meetings with landscape architects Drew Sargeant and Jim McKnight, revealed that the community wants the park to reflect nature. New features will include safety and accessibility features as well as a new shaded walking path, performance stage, playground, half-court basketball, and reading garden. More than 60 new trees, a large pollinator garden, interpretive signs, and rainwater biofiltration will be featured throughout the park. As of February 2023, the FFHL is over halfway to their $1.2 million goal to rebuild the park.
Thirty years after the original construction, the park remains a community asset because of its unique character and its ability to bring the community together to socialize, make art, play, and take action. But the park still needs the support of the community to thrive. The FFHL encourages all to get involved. Consider writing a piece for The Heights Observer about your park memories, contacting the Library to record your stories for our PEACE Park local history collection, or spreading the word about the FFHL’s fundraising efforts. More information about the park updates can be found here.