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City readies for the season

Lindsey Makos, one of 10 lifeguards this sum-mer at Neff Park, helps make the pool build-ing shipshape for Memorial Day weekend. photo by Brad Lindberg.

May 22, 2014
CITY OF GROSSE POINTE — Becky Weiland, head coach of the Norbs municipal swim team, likes to fib about its namesake and emblem, a penguin.

"We tell people a Norb is a rare type of fighting penguin," said Weiland, a University of Michigan student applying to the school of education to teach elementary students.

So rare are Norb fighting penguins, they exist only during summer at Neff Park.

The name actually honors Norbert Neff, a former, longtime City of Grosse Pointe administrator beginning prior to its incorporation as a city.

Neff is doubly honored as the namesake of the park, where the swim team kicks off the 2014 home season Wednesday, June 25, against the Grosse Pointe Shores Sharks.

Weiland hopes to match last season's success.

"All the swimmers showed a really good effort," she said. "We did really well in finals. Placed second again. Ideally, that would be the goal this season."

Being a Norb has perks.

Members have a pancake breakfast, coney night, awards night and post-season trip to the Turtle Cove Family Aquatic Center in Belleville.

"We have an awesome time here," Weiland said.

Entry to the residents-only park is by city-issued pass. Call the park office to apply for a pass and schedule a photograph session.

Most summer recreation activities at Neff involve swimming.

"Swim lessons are really big," said Lindsey Makos, 18, a lifeguard studying public health at Hope College.

Makos is among 10 lifeguards hired this year by Christopher Hardenbrook, parks and recreation director.

"We always have a really good staff," Hardenbrook said. "Everybody pitches in."

Park hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Oct. 31.

Swimming and baby pools open at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 24. Early morning swim, costing $40, starts at 6 a.m.


Three sessions of swimming lessons, taught at eight levels, start June 16, July 7 and 28. The same for two diving courses, beginner and intermediate, costing $45.

"We're mindful of keeping the ratio of class size to instructor down," Hardenbrook said. "We hold a lot of value in instruction."

"Being near the lake, it's crucial for kids to know how to swim because they're going to be on boats and around water," Weiland said.

Hardenbrook teaches a kayak safety course, required to rent a kayak at $5 per hour.

The $30 class is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, in the swimming pool.

"It's important to have safety instructions prior to going out on the lake," he said.


Tennis is taught on two of 10 municipal courts at Elworthy Field, across Waterloo from the Neighborhood Club.

Instructors are from the Grosse Pointe Hunt Club. Classes costing $40 are offered at five levels of proficiency, starting with children as young as 4 years old. Dates are the same as swimming and diving classes.

Classes continue during the overhaul of courts 1 through 4 and resurfacing of all courts.

"Work starts the first week of June, immediately after Grosse Pointe South High School's tennis season," Hardenbrook said.

The Blue Devils use the courts because there aren't any on campus.


The municipal marina is full, Hardenbrook said.

Due to dredging a channel to the marina last year and high water this year, there's no fear of grounding.

"It looks like we're up 6 to 8 inches now and, from what I hear, that's supposed to carry through the season," Hardenbrook said.

A summary of parks and recreation programs is in the spring issue of the city newsletter, "Grosse Pointe NOW."

A complete recreation program is in the department summer newsletter, linked on the municipal website, grossepointecity.org.

The park office telephone number is (313) 343-5257.

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