Splash pad to be named in honor of late Coloma community leader, fundraising continues

The City of Coloma

COLOMA, Mich. - A splash pad in Coloma is one step closer to reality after an update on fundraising and name change was announced at Monday's city committee meeting.

Coloma Mayor Marsha Hammond shared, “I am thrilled to be making this announcement. In March of 2023, the city launched fundraising efforts to install a splash pad in the community. Since then, we have been doing very well working towards our fundraising goal. But today’s announcement is a true game changer. It is a true honor to announce that the City of Coloma is partnering with the Somers family to officially name the splash pad in honor of the late Norma Jean Somers.”

Somers passed away unexpectedly in April 2023. She was on the Coloma Community School Board for 20 years, becoming School Board President, and served on the Community Hospital Board for 25 years, becoming Community Hospital Board President

Officials say Somers also played an instrumental part in the remodeling and rebranding of the Watervliet Parcourse fitness circuit and securing funding and pushing the construction and dedication of the Coloma Community Library forward.

The project's new name is the Norma Jean Somers Splash Pad at Randall Park and is a result of Coloma adopting a Master Plan in May of 2021.

City officials say fundraising efforts for the splash pad were announced in 2023, with a cost estimated to be $165,000 to $200,000.

$131,000 has been raised for the project to date and no taxpayer dollars are being used for it.

Funds have been raised through donations and potential grant funding.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Norma. She was a true community leader that touched so many aspects of the community from the library to the schools to the hospital and much more,” added Hammond. “She is someone that I always admired and respected for her leadership and dedication to the community.”

Somers also volunteered time toward the preservation and restoration of Paw Paw Lake where she lived for nearly 50 years.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Laura Somers Ginter said, “We have found an amazing way to honor and memorialize my mom’s impact and legacy in our community. Her efforts to include everyone and better everything she touched was evident to all those around her. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor her and are so pleased and excited to have secured the naming rights in honor of our beloved mother - wife – grandmother.”

“There is still considerable funding needed to make this a reality in 2024 and we need help from the community to keep the project moving forward. In support of the fundraising efforts, our family is pleased to be hosting two fundraising events,” added Ginter.

Commissioner Jamie Balkin shared, “We are so grateful to the Somers Family for their generosity but more importantly their willingness to help raise the additional funds needed to make the project a reality.”

You can donate here. The donations are organized by the non-profit North Berrien Community Development.

Ginter noted, “We are hosting a small brunch for close family and friends in June and a community-wide event in September at Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club. We are hoping everyone joins us in fundraising to get this across the finish line in 2024! More details and how to purchase tickets to come.”

“Our fingers are crossed on several grant applications that have been submitted. Additionally, we are working on several fundraising projects including a concert. There is clear momentum to make this project a reality," added Balkin.

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