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Volunteers revitalize Granite Shoals parks

Granite Shoals park volunteers

A large band of volunteers turned out for a park workday in Granite Shoals in early June. Shirley King (center) and Michele Landfield (to the right of her) have helped reignite the spirit of volunteerism in the city. Also pictured (from left) are volunteers Jesse Parkison, Carol Young, Kerry Landfield, Don Young, Emerson Garcia, Amber Garcia, Joslin Garcia, Aaron Garcia, Kiel Arnone, Graham Fisher, Patty Hanson, and Chris Hanson. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

After years of smoldering, the flame of volunteerism in Granite Shoals has reignited. The city’s 19 parks are under the stewardship of a growing group of dedicated volunteers who are doing what they can to improve them. 

“Bringing Our Community Together to Enhance Our Parks” is the mantra of Michele Landfield, the current torchbearer of Granite Shoals’ volunteer movement and vice chair of the city’s Parks Advisory Committee. She has gathered a band of non-hired hands to tackle projects large and small in all of the city’s parks. Volunteers assemble picnic tables, wash down playground equipment, spread mulch, pick up trash, clear brush, paint, and do anything else they can to spruce up the parks.

Granite Shoals park volunteers
Riley Parkison (right) helps paint a picnic table at Valley View Park in Granite Shoals with Kerry Landfield (left) and mom Jesse Parkison. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

This volunteer spirit isn’t a new thing in Granite Shoals, a city of about 5,200 people on the banks of Lake LBJ. The parks have had champions in the past, but that fervor has faded in recent years.

Parks Advisory Committee Chair Shirley King reigned as parks patriot before Landfield. She and husband Jack were part of a wave of volunteerism that swept ashore in 2000, when the committee first formed. They spent 15 years leading the charge on parks projects but had to slow down after Jack became ill. According to Shirley, things didn’t pick up again until Landfield stepped in, around 2021.

“What I see here now is the same community spirit that I saw in 2000,” King said.

About 20 people showed up for a recent volunteer workday that Landfield coordinated. The volunteers swept through three city parks, cleaning and painting dozens of picnic tables in just a few hours, the kind of work that the city’s Streets and Parks Department doesn’t have time to do. The department is routinely understaffed and tasked with maintaining 90 miles of roads and other bigger projects in Granite Shoals. Anything that can be taken off of its piled-up plate is seen as worthwhile to Landfield.

“I’m always a person who likes to get her hands in and help,” she said. “I’m always seeing these things that need to be done.”

The parks are a huge asset for the city and are embedded in its history. They were part of the original plan when Granite Shoals was created, said King, who is also the town’s unofficial historian.  

“In 1962, three developers got together and bought the land that would one day become most of Granite Shoals,” she said.

The developers created 18 city parks to draw folks to the area to buy lots, which went for about $50 at the time. By 1966, Granite Shoals became a city, and the parks were forever deeded to the people. The 19th park, Quarry Park, came into being when the city purchased 131 acres of land in 2008. 

Granite Shoals park volunteers
Lisa and Mike Crane hang out with grandkids Hudson and Chloe at Bluebriar Park in Granite Shoals. The kids fished while Lisa and Mike helped clean up the park. Mike used to visit his grandparents in the city, 48 years ago, and is carrying on the tradition. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

In 2002, Granite Shoals adopted the title “The City of Parks,” carving in stone its identity as a family-friendly, lakeside community.

“Forty-eight years ago, I used to walk these streets barefooted and go to these parks, too,” Granite Shoals resident Mike Crane said. 

Crane’s grandparents owned a lot in Granite Shoals and brought him to the parks when he was a kid. He and his wife, Lisa, brought their grandkids to go fishing while they volunteered during a recent park workday. 

Landfield has organized several workdays since January 2023, but for her and husband Kerry, every day is a good day to patrol the parks and pick up trash. She regularly visits the parks and holds fundraisers to pay for improvements. 

She spent most of 2022 trying to get the volunteer movement going but hit a rocky patch after undergoing neck surgery. As soon as the brace came off, she was back in action, pairing up with friend and fellow committee officer King.

“She is a very big inspiration to me,” Landfield said. “We are always dreaming together, and she motivates me to keep moving forward.”

Dozens of volunteers and city employees contribute to the betterment of Granite Shoals parks. New residents, old residents, retired folks, kids, families, friends, city councilors, and all-around altruistic souls have been drawn to the reignited flame of volunteerism, which seems to be growing brighter by the day in The City of Parks.