Seven employees from The Home Depot store in Orion Township paid a visit to the old mill in Leonard on July 7.
But they weren’t there for a social call or a history lesson. They were there to work.
The team of volunteers spent part of the morning setting up nine half-barrel planters and filling them with colorful flowers. They also assembled two brand new, circular picnic tables.
A nice little seating area now greets visitors to the mill and invites them to set a spell.
“I think it looks great,” said village President Mike McDonald. “They did a fantastic job. The village and the Friends of the Mill are thrilled with the improvements. We’ve had a lot of people stop and look.”
The goal was to beautify the mill area and make it accessible to the public in time for the 64th Annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday, July 16.
Home Depot will have a special Kids Corner area set up at the mill during the festival, according to McDonald. Children and their parents will be able to spend some quality time together building simple, wood-based projects.
The planters and tables were paid for using a $2,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation. Approximately $1,000 was left over and that will be put towards the mill’s renovation.
McDonald wished to reiterate Leonard’s profound gratitude and appreciation to the foundation for its generosity and support.
Built in the late 1800s, Leonard’s mill ceased operations in 2004.
Community efforts to save it began in 2010.
Leonard purchased the 0.28-acre mill site, located at E. Elmwood and Division streets, adjacent to the Polly Ann Trail, in May 2014 using a mix of municipal funds and grant money from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The plan is to someday transform the site into the Leonard Mill park, complete with restroom facilities, bicycle racks and fix-it stations, picnic area, benches, landscaping and drinking fountains.
Because of the small village’s very limited budget, the mill project relies entirely on grants and donations. A fund-raising page entitled “Save the Leonard Elevator/Mill” was set up last August on the GoFundMe.com website.
The page has raised $820 so far.