On Memorial Day in 1926, as a result of an appeal by village officials, a large crowd of village residents gathered in Edmund Lyon Park. The reason was a special announcement of a gift from a prominent village citizen.
There was an outburst of cheering as the secret was revealed. Harry Eyer, who came here as head of the selling organization called “The Vanderbilt Improvement Co.” and who had been primarily connected with the development and growth of East Rochester (then called Despatch), announced he was donating 10 acres of land on the eastern edge of the village as a park.
Between the gift of the park and the development of the land, the area was used as a village dumping ground. In the early 1930s under a contract with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a FDR program to give work to people during the Great Depression, the land was finally developed into a village park. It contained a pavilion, tennis and basketball courts, a quarter-mile track and baseball and football fields used by the local school teams.
Older folks will remember the players walking up East Filbert Street and Filbert Place from the school on East Avenue in full uniform to get to the park. In those days, there were no buses and no changing facilities in the park. Three paths led down the hill into the park: At the ends of Filbert Place, Cedar Place and East Commercial Street. Only the one at the end of Filbert Place remains.
Three small ponds were added to give aesthetic value to the area. The village’s summer recreation program was expanded to include this area along with the main park in the center of the village, Edmund Lyon Park.
After World War II, Eyer Park became the first one outside Rochester to install night lighting on the football field. The park was called mosquito heaven, and some night games were played in heavy fog. The football, when passed, would disappear into the fog and come down who knew where.
All the school sports were moved to the Woodbine Avenue campus in the late 1950s.
In 1993, the park was extensively renovated and many of the original features were removed.
Others were added and new buildings were constructed. These buildings were placed on 4- to 6-foot mounds to shield them from the occasional flooding of Irondequoit Creek, which runs along the eastern border of the park.
To this day, Eyer Park has been a joy to the men, women and children of the village and will befor many years to come. Thank you, Harry Eyer.