2018-02-11 / Front Page

Ideas for Blueberry Park explored at Feb. 8 planning board meeting

By Jeanne Marcello
Staff Reporter

CITY OF MONTROSE – During the Thursday, Feb. 8 meeting of the Montrose City planning board, Wade Trim landscape architect Katie Dennis presented ideas for enhancements to Montrose Blueberry Park, located at the corner of South Saginaw Street/Nichols Road and Coke Drive.

The planning board is preparing for the city to submit several grant applications. These grant applications require plans to be successful.

Dennis presented a variety of playground/ park elements that could be incorporated into the Blueberry Park master plan. She also presented two samples of conceptual plans for the park. Both conceptual plans included keeping the park pavilion and the existing path that winds around the park. She also proposed building an American Disabilities Act (ADA) - compliant restroom.

Dennis talked about providing more elements that have an exploratory feel for children.

Planning board members talked about their priorities such as keeping the park low maintenance, making it durable and easy for police to patrol.

Both plans proposed securing additional property on the northeast corner of the park to provide neighborhood children with another access. More trees, benches and shrubs were proposed throughout the park. Dennis talked about adding angled parking along South Saginaw Street, as well as a new park entrance along Saginaw Street. Chairman Todd Pangle said, “Parking is a great idea.”

Dennis talked about installing a new swing set. One plan called for removing and replacing the existing plastic play structure; the other plan called for keeping the same play structure with some additional maintenance.

She also presented ideas for innovative features such as a musical panel, a trike path, having a hill in the middle of the park with a wide slide or other play feature, and a play area she called the Blueberry Patch (which the board loved).

Councilman Mark Richard noticed that the preliminary plans call for a lot of sand. He explained that they got rid of the sand at that park in June of last year because of a problem with ground bees. City Manager Neil Rankin said the sand had also been used as a cat litter box.

Dennis responded, “That’s good to know. We need that feedback.”

Planning board member Anthony Brown pointed out that the township’s Barber Park play structure was built over a rubberized surface; an option they might consider instead of sand.

Dennis had suggested having a tunnel that children could run through; however, board members had several reservations.

Brown said, “[With a] big tunnel, you’re just opening up for problems.” Vice chairman Frank Taylor agreed, saying, “We have a lot of wildlife in this town; skunks, possum and the like. You don’t want tunnels going into the hill.”

Brown said, “The bathroom is going to be the biggest issue.” He is concerned about potential vandalism.

Richard explained that the state found ways to legally install cameras at public rest stops. Cameras were installed at Lions Park. “After kids got caught, we haven’t had a problem,” he said.

Taylor said the number one complaint about Blueberry Park is there are no bathrooms. Dennis explained that in her experience, an ADA-compliant bathroom is one of the things the grant agencies like to see.

Dennis presented her ideas for Blueberry Park. The planning board provided feedback. Dennis will return to the next meeting, March 8, with revised plans. A public hearing will be held during that meeting to receive public comment about the plans.

Rankin said, “April 1 is the deadline for us.” He talked about pursuing grants through the Michigan Trust Fund, Michigan Land and Water, and Recreation Passport programs. He estimated that there’s approximately $12 to $15 million available through these programs.

“This will probably be in our next budget cycle. [We’ll] try to come up with a sizable match,” Rankin said.

The Montrose city planning board set a public hearing for the March 8 meeting.

Later in the meeting, resident Robert Cole told the council, “When I look at this park on this side of town, I see tundra. This looks like it’s for small children. I’d like to see a basketball court [for older kids].” He explained that the plans presented appeal to a very small group of people. “It might be better to add things for a wider range of youth,” Cole said.

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