Anarchists put Picnic Tables in Park
from the Lansing State Journal
Anarchist group put picnic tables in Reutter Park and Lansing isn't objecting - for now
LANSING -- An anarchist group called Punks with Lunch that helps the homeless and others less fortunate won't face resistance from city officials for a gesture it made last weekend in a downtown park.
There are no plans to remove four picnic tables group members padlocked to trees in Ruetter Park, Lansing Parks And Recreation Director Brett Kaschinske said.
"They will stay for now," Kaschinske said of the tables, "and we'll see how it works."
Reutter Park is located at the corner of West Kalamazoo Street and South Capitol Avenue, across from the Capital Area District Library.
Kaschinske said the city removed its own picnic tables from the park last year because officials "had concerns about the uses of them" and were aware of a few instances when people using them failed to obey park rules.
A group called Punks with Lunch recently placed four picnic tables in downtown Lansing's Reutter Park. Members locked them to trees. City officials don't have plans to remove them.
He declined to explain what rules were violated in the park and said he's been in touch with Punks with Lunch members about the group's activities.
The city does provide places to sit in the 3-acre Reutter Park. There are six benches bolted to pavement near the park's centerpiece fountain.
Julia Miller, founder of Punks with Lunch Lansing, said group members spent at least $400 for the four picnic tables and placed them in the park Saturday.
"I’m thankful that (Kaschinske) is allowing them to stay," Miller said. "We did have our concerns about how long they would be there for.”
Miller said she started noticing city-owned picnic tables disappearing from the park during the fall of 2017.
Metro Place is a $25 million housing and retail development planned for the former YMCA site near downtown Lansing's Reutter Park.
Metro Place is a $25 million housing and retail development planned for the former YMCA site near downtown Lansing's Reutter Park. (Photo: Courtesy image)
That motivated the group — with a non-violent, non-hierarchical "no masters, no slaves" approach — to not wait for city officials and get their own tables out there.
“We thought if they aren’t doing it, we’re going to do it for them," Miller said.
Punks with Lunch Lansing was founded by Miller in November 2017 and consists of 15 to 30 people, she said.
The group meets every other Saturday in the park to give clothing, food and bus tokens to homeless and low income residents.
Kaschinske's department oversees the use and maintenance of 111 parks within Lansing's 36 square miles. He said it's not uncommon to remove picnic tables and other city-owned property in parks.
Kaschinske said officials are always looking into new ways for visitors to enjoy all city parks and may eventually add new features and attractions to Reutter Park because of renewed interest in that area.
“Basically our mission is to provide things that aren’t otherwise available to Lansing residents," Kaschinske said. "And that goes for anything and everything.”
Construction is underway for a $25 million housing project called Metro Place, near the park's southwest corner.
Metro Place will be located at the site of the former YMCA building at the corner of Townsend and West Lenawee streets.
Plans call for 145 loft-style apartments and almost 7,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.