Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Aug. 13, 2013): After skipping the July meeting for a summer break, WCPARC tackled a full agenda at its August session. Commissioners took action related to land preservation and the east county recreation center in Ypsilanti, and were briefed about a proposed corridor improvement authority along State Road in Pittsfield Township.
Aerial view showing proposed location of a county recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti, in the city-owned Water Street property next to the Huron River and south of Michigan Avenue. (Image from the WCPARC Aug. 13, 2013 meeting packet.)
Commissioners approved expenses totaling $1,760,780 to acquire complete or partial interests in 140 acres for the natural areas preservation program (NAPP), and took the first step to approve acquisition of conservation easements on 170 acres of farmland for $258,500.
The NAPP purchases include 71 acres in Ann Arbor Township presently owned by DF [Domino's Farms] Land Development, west and north of the intersection of Plymouth and Dixboro Roads. The purchase includes 54 acres – known as Arbor Vistas – on the south side of Ford Road. WCPARC will contribute $928,780 of the total price of $2.167 million, with the remainder of funding coming from the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Trust Fund ($1.088 million) and Ann Arbor Township ($150,000).
Two other parcels – 5 acres and 12 acres – are located near the larger site. In total, these three acquisitions will enhance access to existing preserves, according to staff, and will benefit from the parking areas and trails already built in those preserves.
The WCPARC also gave final approval to purchase the 66-acre Primeau property in Freedom Township for $420,000, and to buy the 3-acre Holley property in Pittsfield Township for $90,000. The Holley property – on the south side of Textile Road, north of Michigan Avenue – is important because of its woods and its adjacency to three other heavily wooded parcels that WCPARC has given tentative approval to purchase. The 8-1 vote for the Holley purchase came over dissent by commissioner Fred Veigel, who questioned paying $30,000 an acre for property that could be developed.
The WCPARC also administers the agricultural land preservation program, which protects farmland by purchasing development rights (conservation easements) rather than title to the land. At the Aug. 13 meeting, commissioners gave preliminary approval for two such purchases: (1) the 101-acre Cort property in Salem Township, for $100,000; and (2) the 69-acre Schneider property in Lodi Township at the southeast corner of Scio Church and Parker Roads, for $158,500.
The commission was briefed on one ongoing project: the proposed recreation center in downtown Ypsilanti‘s Water Street area. The presentation included a summary of a survey about how such a new facility might be used. The survey had been commissioned by the Ann Arbor YMCA with some funding from WCPARC, and showed that there is sufficient demand and willingness to pay for the center. The results also provided details to guide decisions about fees and the size and nature of facilities in the building.
In action related to the center, commissioners approved extending for six months a letter of intent to reach a development agreement between WCPARC and the city of Ypsilanti. The plan is to use that time to negotiate a full development agreement so that the city can transfer the property – up to 8 of the 38 acres on Michigan Avenue east of downtown Ypsilanti – before Jan. 4, 2014.
Commissioners were briefed about a proposed Pittsfield Township corridor improvement authority along State Road. It would use tax increment financing (TIF) to provide funding for upgrading South State between Ellsworth Road and Michigan Avenue.
The commission also approved several financial reports for June and July, and received updates on various projects and activities. Director Bob Tetens distributed a draft of the WCPARC budget for 2014-2017, but there was neither description nor discussion of the document, which will be on the September agenda. [Full Story]