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Slocum Truax Park Was More Than an Open Field

The land that has long been an open field used to be one of the most important aspects of Trenton.

Neighbors around said the open field isn't much fun for their children.

Children like to run on the grass at the park, but there's not much else for them to do. And the few stray pieces of playground equipment are dated, parents say.

The park is about to get , thanks to a grant and the volunteer efforts of the community. (To find out how to help, read on.)

But how did Slocum Truax get so under-utilized?

It turns out, this park wasn't always a dud. It once had more important responsibilities.

The land once housed Slocum Truax High School. A large slab of cement with the school's name once hung high above the entrance of the school, and it now rests at the front of the park. It is the last remaining piece of the high school.

According to Carol Hendricks, 67, of the Trenton Historical Society, the school had close to 200 seniors graduating each year at its peak and was donated by the Slocum and the Truax families.

The Slocums also donated the property that is now .

Hendricks said the school became less and less important as more and more families moved into houses on the south side of Trenton. Eventually was built to accommodate those families.

Former historical society president Pauline Arthurs said the Slocum Truax school closed in July 1979. She said the Slocum family had a proviso for the building stating the building was to be used as a school, or it had to be given to the city.

In October 1980, the city of Trenton made an attempt to auction off the building and property, but the auction was canceled after someone vandalized the rear of the building, according to the Trenton Times newspaper.

The vandalism damaged the rear of the building so severely that the building became a safety hazard. There also was very little of the building left to auction off after extreme theft, according to the newspaper.

The previously mentioned headstone was nearly destroyed when the building was demolished in October 1980, but an effort by then-councilman William Muddiman rescued the piece from utter destruction, according to the Trenton Times.

A New Life

The property remained untouched and barren for years, until the city began a project to renew aging sewer systems in 2000, Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown said.

The property had a job once again. Construction lasted until 2004 and the land was used to store construction materials, dirt and rock.

And, in an instant, the property was barren once again.

Now, Slocum Truax has another shot at glory.

Trenton city council members voted in July 2011 to use to purchase new playground equipment for the park. Soon the field will be barren no more.

Parents in the surrounding neighborhood have to hear the empty space will soon be filled with a huge playscape.

Not Without a Price

There was not enough money in the grant for labor costs, so council members and Brown have reached out to local businesses and members of the community to to help assemble the playground equipment.

If you are interested in volunteering contact Joann Perna at the 734-675-7300.

Leah Derby September 02, 2011 at 05:39 PM
I love this article about the park and I love that it is going to be receiving a new playground (especially since that's the neighborhood my son plays in) but i really do hope that the curly slide can stay. it's special, it's vintage and it has character the new stuff lacks. ALSO, the exercise circuit equipment was NEVER meant to be played on by children. That stuff is still very much usable and residents should be encouraged to put it to use. WAY cheaper than a gym membership :)
Nate Stemen (Editor) September 02, 2011 at 06:25 PM
@Leah: Thanks for the compliment and that is a good point about the exercise equipment. I like the idea of saving money by using the freebies provided by the city.
Carol Hendricks September 05, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Thanks for the article, Nate. I just want you to know I am not quite 72 yet, although there are days I feel like it. Carol Hendricks, Trenton Historical Society

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