2016-11-17 / Local News

Residents to Leelanau Township: concentrate on park maintenance

Needed: bike racks, pooper bags
By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

Leelanau Township should spend more time and money on maintaining its parks, rather than adding amenities.

That’s the consensus of several people who spoke at a public hearing on an updated five-year parks and recreation plan held during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

The hearing lasted about 20 minutes.

“I think there needs to be a maintenance schedule proposed,” said Doug Whitley.

And money to fund that maintenance should be a regular line item in the township’s annual budget, Whitley added.

A committee made up of people from around the township worked for several months on the project with the help of Elizabeth Calcutt, a regional planner with Networks Northwest.

A community forum was held in June, with about 25 people attending.

Marsha Buehler, who was on the committee, said members visited each park to assess their conditions and what was needed.

The focus should be on repair and maintenance, Buehler concluded.

“There’s kind of a backlog of things that need to be done in each park,” she said.

Trustee Galen Leighton headed up the committee.

“We need to really improve the maintenance of our parks,” Leighton said.

The township has three public beaches at Peterson Park, Christmas Cove and in Omena, as well as the Braman Hill Recreation Area, the Buster Dame Recreation Field and Woolsey Airport.

There are also 1,300 acres contained within the Leelanau State Park at the tip of the peninsula and several Leelanau Conservancy-preserved areas, though the township is not responsible for upkeep of those.

A draft of the plan has been posted on the township’s website for 30 days. Calcutt said some minor changes will be made to the draft, which the township will likely approve at its December 13 meeting.

The plan, which covers 2016-21, must be adopted by the end of this calendar year. Communities must have recreation plans in place in order to receive state grants.

Sharon Golm, a member of the committee, said some smaller items that wouldn’t cost much would enhance the parks. Included are bike racks and “doggy pooper scooper bags” at each trash receptacle.

The township also took no action on a plan to move the parking lot at Christmas Cove Beach.

Details of the plan were presented in a report submitted by landscape architects O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates. The Kalamazoo-based company was paid $6,000 to come up with a solution to an eroding bluff at the beach and a parking lot that may be lost if the erosion continues.

The plan includes moving the parking lot back about 15 feet, and then sloping the dune down to the beach and planting dune grass to stabilize it.

The cost of the project is more than $500,000, and would also include creating universal access to the beach and moving an outdoor toilet located there.

Christmas Cove Beach was expanded to about 400 feet a couple of years ago when the township purchased a 3/4-acre waterfront lot for $570,000, using a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for most of it.

The beach has since been plagued with erosion on the original section of the beach.

In other business the township:

 Approved a proposal by Hentco Tennis Court Specialists for $3,564 for repairs to the Braman Hill tennis courts. The work will take place in the spring, with payment upon completion.

 Approved the $800 purchase and installation of a firewall to block illegal downloading of movies and other content by people who sit outside the Leelanau Township Library and use its free Wi-Fi.

The library has received several notices from Charter Communications threatening to shut down the library’s Internet access.

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