• Evan Jones

City seeks community input for 5-year parks and recreation plan


Lansing resident Don Majkol, left, helps Zeeland, Mich., resident Brian Moulder, right, tighten bolts June 18, 2014, in Patriarche Park on the intersection of Alton Street and East Saginaw Highway in East Lansing. Majkol worked on the original constructions of Patriarche Park before the renovations. Corey Damocles/The State News Corey Damocles | The State News

The City of East Lansing is updating its five-year Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Plan and is asking for public input through a survey that can be accessed online.

The current action plan was created for 2015-2019, while the updated version will be adopted in 2020. Although this the final year of the current cycle, many planned projects have yet to be completed.

Public input sessions on the update will be held at the Hannah Community Center on Feb. 7 and March 7, both at 6:30 p.m. A paper version of the survey is available at the Hannah Center, the East Lansing Public Library and City Hall.

The survey should take about 10 to 12 minutes to complete, according to the city. The deadline to complete the survey is Feb. 11.

“We hope community members will take advantage of the opportunities available to share their input with us as we work to update this important document,” East Lansing Parks, Recreation & Art Director Tim McCaffrey said in a statement.

The most important aspect of this long-term plan is making the parks better suited for the communities that use them, McCaffrey said.

“Our number-one priority over this upcoming five-year period is very likely going to be improvements and renovations to existing infrastructure,” he said.

For example, at Patriarche Park, renovations continue on the baseball and softball fields thanks in part to a state recreation grant and matching city funds.

“We received a $50,000 grant from the Natural Resources Trust Fund, and we will be matching that with some local funds to complete the Patriarche Park ballfield improvements,” McCaffrey said.

Matching grant money is a common move by the parks department, City Councilmember Aaron Stephens said. He is happy with the department’s ability to secure grants and effectively use those funds.

“Over time, they’ve saved a lot of tax money," he said. "They’ve done a lot of things to help our residents.”

McCaffrey said the department is in the process of requesting a grant for additional improvements to the restrooms and pavilion at Patriarche Park.

Patriarche Park upgrades including pickleball courts and a playground are included in the department's list of 21 "capital accomplishments" from 2014-2018.

According to McCaffrey, a high percentage of the funds projects within the updated five-year plan will come from trust fund grants. The rest would come from the parks department's portion of the revenue generated by the income tax and from the Ingham County trails and parks millage.

Additional focus areas include parking lot improvements at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center and East Lansing Aquatic Center. The department also plans to replace a pool liner at the aquatic center.

“We always need to be making improvements,” Stephens said. “These are the things that people pay for with their tax dollars, and I think it's important that we keep them in tip-top shape.”