At their May 14, 2013 meeting, Washtenaw County parks & rec commissioners voted to grant $150,000 to the city of Ypsilanti to help complete the Rutherford Pool project. The Friends of Rutherford Pool is trying to raise about $1 million to rebuild the community pool, located on the eastern end of Recreation Park at 975 North Congress Street. Commissioners also took steps that will lead to spending over $1.713 million on natural areas preservation of more than 300 acres countywide.
At its April 9, 2013 meeting, the Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission took the first step to acquire more properties for the county’s natural areas preservation program (NAPP). The group also heard a report from the Legacy Land Conservancy about a second round of farmland preservation through a NAPP program that the conservancy helps administer.
Several actions at the March 12, 2013 meeting of the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission related to grants and partnerships – including the allocation of $600,000 in Connecting Communities funding. Ann Arbor received a $150,000 grant for the 721 N. Main project, contingent on securing matching state funds. WCPARC also took action on the proposed recreation center in Ypsilanti, a master plan for the Staebler Farm, and expansion of the countywide Border-to-Border trail.
Washtenaw County parks and recreation commissioners took a range of actions at their Feb. 12, 2013 meeting related to natural areas preservation, including a possible partnership with the city of Ann Arbor to buy property near the Ruthven nature area off of Geddes. The commission also reviewed applications for WCPARC’s Connecting Communities grants, including a $300,000 from the city of Ann Arbor for trails in the Allen Creek greenway. Commissioners also voted to raise fees on county parks and recreation facilities in 2013.
At its Dec. 11, 2012 meeting, the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission gave final approval to spend $500,000 for 65 acres in Superior Township, in an area that’s known as the Superior Greenway. They also authorized staff to undertake due diligence toward a sales offer on 473 acres in Manchester Township, which could result in a new state recreation area that includes the southwest corner of Washtenaw County.
At their Nov. 13, 2012 meeting, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commissioners approved moving forward with a major project that could result in a new state recreation area in the southwest corner of Washtenaw County. They also authorized several conservation easements for farmland throughout the county, and were briefed about progress in developing a new recreation center in Ypsilanti.
Citing concerns over placement of the building on the site, Ann Arbor planning commissioners postponed action on a proposed retail development at 3600 Plymouth Road, immediately west of US-23. Called The Shoppes at 3600, the building is oriented with its back facing Plymouth. Commissioners acted on a range of other items at their Nov. 7, 2012 meeting, including recommending a change to the city’s off-street parking ordinance.
About 70 people crowded into a Sept. 27, 2012 open house at the Spark East office in Ypsilanti to hear about plans for a proposed new recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti, on the northwest corner of the Water Street redevelopment area. Two conceptual designs were presented for feedback, developed in large part by students and faculty at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The overall project is being spearheaded by Washtenaw County parks and recreation.
The Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission took another significant step toward receiving a $2.275 million grant from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund to buy the Arbor Vistas Preserve natural areas connector – by approving $975,000 in matching county funds for the project. The property is located in Ann Arbor Township. WCPARC also authorized $109,864 to buy a conservation easement on 124 acres in Lodi Township; and $64,200 toward the purchase of a conservation easement on 73 acres in Salem Township. Both deals are in partnership with the Ann Arbor greenbelt program.
In the context of two proposals by the Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission – a natural areas ordinance change and new recreation center in Ypsilanti – this Chronicle report looks at the history, budget, and scope of the county parks and recreation system, as well as its master planning for the future and its partnerships with local, state and national organizations with a similar purpose.