Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission meeting (May 8, 2012): This month’s meeting of the county parks and recreation commission had three themes: starting new projects, planning for the future of the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), and updating commissioners about ongoing and completed projects.
The entrance to Washtenaw County's DeVine Preserve on West Liberty Road in Scio Township, part of the natural areas preservation program. It is adjacent to other property that the county parks and recreation commission might buy with NAPP millage proceeds. (Photos by the writer.)
Much of the discussion related to NAPP, including a proposed ordinance change to increase the proportion of funds that can be used for maintaining (as opposed to purchasing) property for natural areas or land preserves. The change would allow the county to set aside up to 25% of annual millage proceeds for stewardship, a significant increase from the 7% currently allowed under the NAPP ordinance. NAPP is funded by a 10-year, 0.25 mill tax that voters first approved in 2000 and renewed in 2010. It generates about $3.2 million in annual revenues.
Commissioners authorized staff to pursue the NAPP ordinance change, which would need to be approved by the county board of commissioners. A June 7 board working session is scheduled on the topic. If approved, WCPARC staff estimate they could set aside enough to build a $6 million fund by 2020, when the current NAPP millage ends.
The commission also approved two new NAPP purchases: (1) $75,000 for the Malikah Muhammad property, 20 acres in Scio Township adjacent to the county’s existing DeVine Preserve; and (2) $245,250 for 33 acres in Northfield Township owned by J.A. Bloch, contingent on partnering with the Ann Arbor greenbelt program for a portion of the cost.
Related to a project on the east side of the county, commissioners approved a $10,000 payment toward planning for the Eastern County Recreation Center on Ypsilanti’s Water Street site. WCPARC had been briefed on the project at its April 2012 meeting. The planning will be guided by faculty at the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who will lead a team of six students in developing a conceptual plan for the rec center by the end of December. A grant from UM will pick up $30,000 of the estimated $40,000 in planning expenses.
The commission also got updates on a range of projects, including completion of the extensive Malletts Creek bank stabilization at the County Farm Park, and the receipt of bids for design of the Ann Arbor skatepark, which WCPARC is helping to fund. [Full Story]