Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (June 11, 2013): WCPARC’s June meeting, the first since the summer season kicked off on Memorial Day weekend, focused on two of the commission’s main responsibilities: maintaining and improving its parks and recreational facilities, and acquiring land for its natural areas preservation program (NAPP).
One NAPP deal that’s been years in the works took a step forward, with commissioners giving initial approval to acquire three parcels totaling 71 acres in Ann Arbor Township, owned by a subsidiary of Domino’s Farms. The deal includes a 54-acre parcel that had received widely varying appraisals, which had delayed the acquisition process. That property will cost a total of $3.25 million – with NAPP paying $928,780 and the remainder coming from other partners, including a contribution by the owner. The other two parcels are (1) five acres at a cost of $100,000, and (2) 12 acres for $215,000, with a possible contribution from Ann Arbor’s greenbelt program. The commission will consider giving final approval to all three acquisitions at its July meeting.
In other NAPP-related action, the commission gave final approval to $1,502,336 worth of NAPP purchases: the four-acre Jarskey property in Scio Township for $57,140, and the 249-acre Ramsey-Lippert-Carr properties in Northfield Township for $1,445,196. Both proposals had been described and discussed at WCPARC’s May 14, 2013 meeting.
Commissioners also approved a staff recommendation to expand NAPP’s stewardship program by creating three new staff positions, doubling the county’s investment in NAPP crews to about $350,000 a year. The expansion is possible because of an ordinance change approved by the county board on Sept. 19, 2012, removing constraints on how funds are allocated between NAPP acquisition and maintenance.
Regarding parks & recreation facilities, WCPARC staff updated commissioners on a new water park – called Blue Heron Bay – that’s located at Independence Lake county park. The water park, fenced off from the rest of the facility with a separate admission fee, has amenities designed for younger children, including spray-and-play features and a water slide.
Another expanded facility – Rolling Hills water park, on the east side of the county – includes a wave pool and spray-and-play installations. One of the improvements that seemed of great interest to commissioners was the new three-story water slide.
Commissioners were also briefed on recent market research regarding a proposed east county recreation center, to be built and managed in a partnership with WCPARC, the city of Ypsilanti and the Ann Arbor YMCA. The study indicated support for a 44,000-square-foot center – smaller than the county’s 51,000-square-foot Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center in Ann Arbor and the 70,000-square-foot Ann Arbor YMCA. The full report will be presented on June 25 to WCPARC members and other stakeholders.
In other updates, WCPARC staff noted that bids for construction of the Ann Arbor Skatepark were received, with the lowest bid of $1.2 million coming from Ann Arbor-based Krull Construction. The skatepark’s original budget was $800,000, including a $400,000 contribution from WCPARC. The city of Ann Arbor is working to amend the project’s scope and find additional revenue sources. [The item is on the agenda for the Ann Arbor park advisory commission's June 18 meeting, with a revised construction bid of $1,031,592, based in part on changes to the project's scope. The total project budget is now $1,224,311.]