Stories indexed with the term ‘Connecting Communities grant’

County Expands Natural Areas Preservation

Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Feb. 11, 2014): After skipping the January 2014 meeting for lack of business, commissioners had a heavy agenda for their meeting in February.

Superior Township, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Aerial view of Bloch/Vreeland property in Superior Township. Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission approved the purchase of a conservation easement on this parcel. (Image from WCPARC board packet.)

Action included approving the purchase of a conservation easement on 129 acres in Superior Township – fronting Vreeland and Leforge roads – for $613,500. Purchase of another easement was authorized for $95,731 on the Rogers parcel, 157 acres in York Township.

Commissioners also heard an update on the proposed agreement between WCPARC and the city of Ypsilanti that would result in WCPARC building a new recreation center on 4.1 acres of land in the Water Street redevelopment area, next to the Huron River. Some of the changes in the draft agreement came at the request of the Ann Arbor YMCA, which is partnering on the project and would operate the center. The goal is to complete construction by late 2016.

Grant applications for WCPARC’s Connecting Communities initiative were reviewed. Requests from four townships and the village of Manchester totaled $1.35 million. That’s far greater than the $600,000 available for the grant program, which was created to build non-motorized trails across the county. Commissioners will decide at their March 11 meeting how to award the grants.

During public commentary, three residents spoke to the commission about the ill effects of over-abundant deer in the county, and urged WCPARC to address the situation.

The commission also welcomed its newest member to the group: Dan Ezekiel, a science teacher at Ann Arbor Public Schools and former chair of the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission. One of the longest-serving commissioners – labor leader Fred Veigel, who has represented the county road commission on WCPARC – didn’t attend the meeting because of ill health. He died on March 2. [Full Story]

County Awards Trail-Building Grants

Washtenaw County parks and recreation commission meeting (March 12, 2013): Several actions at WCPARC’s most recent meeting related to grants and partnerships – including the allocation of $600,000 in Connecting Communities funding.

721 N. Main, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, Ann Arbor, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A view of the 721 N. Main site in Ann Arbor, looking south from Summit Street. The Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission awarded the city a $150,000 grant to develop trails in the property, but only if the city gets matching funds from the state. (Photos by the writer.)

Four communities received grants from WCPARC under that trail-building program: the village of Dexter ($225,000); Ypsilanti Township ($75,000); Pittsfield Township ($150,000); and the city of Ann Arbor ($150,000). Funding for Ann Arbor – only half of the $300,000 that the city had applied for – is to fund a trail at 721 N. Main, a city-owned site that’s being redeveloped. The award is contingent on the city receiving a matching grant from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund (MDNRTF).

WCPARC is also applying for an MDNRTF grant, hoping to get $300,000 to help develop a master plan for the Staebler Farm County Park. The 98-acre property, which straddles Plymouth Road in Superior Township, had been a family farm for nearly a century. The commission held a public hearing on this issue, and heard from four nearby property owners who raised concerns about trespassing. The proposal calls for WCPARC to contribute $450,000 in county funds to the project.

Moving forward on another major project, commissioners approved three actions related to the proposed recreation center on Ypsilanti’s Water Street redevelopment site, located along Michigan Avenue. WCPARC agreed to share equally with the Ann Arbor YMCA in a $28,000 market study to help determine whether there’s enough community interest to support the proposed center. Commissioners also authorized staff to move forward with the acquisition, for $31,500, of an easement from the Huron Fischer Honda Leasing Co. for a section of the Border-to-Border (B2B) trail that would connect Riverside Park to the Water Street site. The third action was a resolution acknowledging a partnership between WCPARC and the city of Ypsilanti to design, build and operate the rec center.

And WCPARC also authorized staff to apply for $1.4 million from the federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) to extend the B2B River Terrace Trail from Dexter-Huron Metropark east 1.1 miles to Zeeb Road. TAP is administered through SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments). The application would be in partnership with Scio Township and the Washtenaw County Road Commission. [Full Story]

Washtenaw Preserves Superior Twp. Site

Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Dec. 11, 2012): At their December meeting, commissioners took action on properties for the county’s natural areas preservation program. They gave final approval to spend $500,000 for 65 acres on Berry Road in Superior Township, in an area that’s known as the Superior Greenway.

Ford Road Property LLC, Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission, natural areas preservation program, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Map showing two Ford Road Property LLC parcels (encircled) that the county is purchasing for its natural areas preservation program. A third parcel, which fronts Ford Road, is not part of this deal. The land is located in Superior Township.

In a separate vote, WCPARC authorized staff to undertake due diligence toward a sales offer on 473 acres on the border of Jackson and Washtenaw counties. This deal – for the Trolz property in Manchester Township – is a project that could result in a new state recreation area that includes the southwest corner of Washtenaw County. [See Chronicle coverage: "County Pursues Major New Parks & Rec Deal"]

Commissioners also bid adieu to Jimmie Maggard, who has served on WCPARC for over 30 years, and to outgoing county commissioner Barbara Bergman. Janis Bobrin, who has served on WCPARC for more than two decades by right of her position as Washtenaw County water resources commissioner, did not run for re-election but will continue on WCPARC as a public member. [She was appointed by the county board at their Dec. 5 meeting.] Evan Pratt, who was elected water resources commissioner on Nov. 6, will join WCPARC in January – he attended the Dec. 11 meeting.

In the hour before the meeting started, commissioners and WCPARC staff held their annual holiday party. The highlight was a first viewing of a 30-minute video history of WCPARC, created by county staff over the past several months. The video will be available to the public soon, according to WCPARC deputy director Coy Vaughn. It will run on monitors at the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center, on cable television, and in smaller segments on the WCPARC website.

Also at the Dec. 11 meeting, the commission approved spending $33,375 to buy grooming equipment for cross-country skiing trails at Independence Lake and Rolling Hills parks. Staff provided reports on finances, highlighted by expenditures to maintain and improve Rolling Hills Water Park and Independence Lake Park; reported on recent projects, including the proposed East County Recreation Center in Ypsilanti; and reviewed WCPARC’s accomplishments in 2012.

An item not on the Dec. 11 agenda will likely receive attention in early 2013: An application from the city of Ann Arbor for up to $300,000 in Connecting Communities funds. If awarded, the grant would be used as matching funds for additional state support to improve the city-owned 721 N. Main property. Applications for WCPARC’s Connecting Communities must be received by year’s end, and the Ann Arbor city council is expected to authorize the application at its Dec. 17 meeting. [See Chronicle coverage: "Grant Applications Recommended for 721 N. Main."] [Full Story]