City approves parks master plan on ‘wish list’

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STERLING HEIGHTS – The year 2022 has just started, but Sterling Heights already has its eye on the future of the city’s parks and recreation facilities.

At its Jan. 4 meeting, Sterling Heights City Council unanimously adopted a new Parks, Recreation and Non-Motorized Vehicle Master Plan that will cover a wishlist of ideas and items for next five years.

During his presentation, the director of parks and recreation, Kyle Langlois, said his department develops a master plan every five years, and that this new plan focuses on 2022-2026. In order to make the master plan, the city began preparations over 15 months ago, Langlois said.

This new master plan follows the completion of the recreational recreation initiative that voters narrowly approved in 2016, which renovated the park‘s amenities and built new destinations like the skate park, wading pool, park for dogs, the community center and the Dodge Park Farmers Market Pavilion.

“While we have undoubtedly transformed our community over the past five years, I again look forward to advancing our city in the recreation area using this overview of our department’s position and a number of new goals. to achieve, ”he said.

Adam Young, senior project manager at consulting firm Wade Trim, who worked on the master plan, said the parks’ latest master plan resulted in many successful projects that have grown thanks to Recreating Recreation.

“This really follows the success of the recreational recreation program that was launched in 2016,” he said. “We want, once again, to build on this momentum. ”

Young said the five-year action plan is a guide and decision-making document that “is not set in stone,” does not commit the city to any project, and is an “intentionally ambitious” laundry list. He added that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources requires municipalities to establish these master plans in order to qualify for certain state grants.

The investigation and the action program
In creating the report, the city would have taken into account its facilities, demographics, leisure trends and accessibility, among others. Last year, the city also administered a resident survey of 920 respondents. Not all respondents answered all of the questions.

According to the report, this survey found that about 84.3% of respondents rated the parks department‘s offerings as excellent or good. For recreation programs and facilities, 39.2% of respondents thought they were “a little more needed” and 38.4% thought they were currently sufficient.

However, 55.8% thought the number of parks was enough, while 26% thought a little more was needed. If another park needed to be built, 30.7% wanted it to be in the southeast quadrant, followed by 29.1% for the northeast quadrant.

The top five activities of interest to survey respondents going forward are canoeing, swimming, archery / shooting, fishing and cross-country skiing.

Among the most popular recreational facilities, indoor pools were the most popular item with 64.7%. The city currently has an agreement with Warren that allows residents to have access to the Warren community pool at its resident rates, Langlois said, although he added that Warren only reopened the pool after COVID- 19 to holders of annual or monthly passes.

Young said the five-year action program aims to add park equipment such as picnic tables, benches, bike racks and new athletic fields. The plan also prioritizes non-motorized improvements such as filling voids on sidewalks, establishing and improving the state-wide Iron Belle Trail route through the city, creating a ” shared use trail extensions used by cyclists and pedestrians, and improved signage and safety.

In addition, the plan also contemplates the acquisition of land for other properties in the park. For example, the former site of Fillmore Elementary School is listed as a good location for a neighborhood park, if it is acquired by the city.

The board reacts
When the city council gave the presentation, Mayor Pro Tem Liz Sierawski was excited about the idea of ​​securing grants for future projects.

“It’s not necessarily free money, but it’s definitely an opportunity for us to get our money’s worth,” she said.

City Councilor Michael Radtke called the report “excellent”. Among the things he discussed, he wanted a sidewalk connecting Baumgartner Park and a better way for neighboring residents to access Moravian Park. He also said he wanted to see a community park in the 15 Mile Road and Van Dyke area, and expressed interest in reallocating the Fillmore Elementary School site for this purpose.

Radtke also inquired about the park lands the city owns near the Red Run Drain, near Moravian Drive and Schoenherr Road. In the master plan, Red Run Park is described as an “open, undeveloped space consisting of 15.2 acres of land.”

“Is it marked? Radtke said. “I don’t even know if… people know we have a park there. So if we could put, for example, a sign in front of it or something to let residents know that this is actually their property and that they can use it, I think that would be fascinating.

City Councilor Maria Schmidt said nothing in the master plan was set in stone, but rather a wish list. She said she had received phone calls and texts to find out if the town had already acquired the Fillmore property.

“It’s definitely in our plan, but there’s no deal in the order at the moment,” Langlois said. “In fact, we would need to get funding to even be able to do that, through grants, which would be one of our fundraising mechanisms. … We would be two years away from that.

Langlois said the Fillmore site is a potential opportunity since the town does not have a park in this area. He added that it would be desirable for the city to acquire some green space near 17 Mile Road – near Utica and Schoenherr Roads – for conservation purposes.

Councilor Deanna Koski asked about the Sterling Relief Trail, a proposed non-motorized path that could run east to west along the Sterling Relief Drain between 15 Mile Road and the Metropolitan Parkway. Langlois said it was included in the plan as a “potential opportunity”, and the report itself states “that there is no intention on the part of the City to pursue this project at this time. “.

Langlois also described a preferred option for the Iron Belle Trail connecting road through town. While the report states that the Clinton River Trail system is currently part of the Iron Belle, Langlois said the town hopes to continue the Iron Belle route south of Dodge Park, which will connect to Warren. He said he would prefer the road go through Baumgartner Park and then connect to Dodge Park Road via 15 Mile Road.

Mayor Michael Taylor wanted to know if there were plans for a disc golf course within two to five years, adding that “we’ve been talking about it for over a decade.”

Langlois said the plans collapsed over differences of opinion. He said the original plan used a space in Puffin Park to operate it, so he would like the city to make improvements to Puffin Park before reassessing any nine-hole disc golf plan.

The parks master plan is expected to be submitted to the Michigan MNR by February 1.

Learn more about Sterling Heights and its park master plan by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or calling (586) 446-2489.

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