More Inclusive, Accessible Parks Focus Of Muskegon County Commission Meeting

Andrew Trzaska | March 13, 2012

Muskegon County’s Board of Commissioners are set to apply for three state grants that will help make three county-owned parks more inclusive to those with disabilities or mobility challenges.

Inclusiveness is an issue discussed multiple times by the County Commission this year; citizens responded to the Muskegon Area Transit System’s new bus stops with concerns for those with limited mobility.

The county hopes to tap three sources of funding provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for outdoor recreation improvements: The Recreation Passport Grant, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Funding for the Recreation Passport Grant comes from the $10 fee attached to automobile registration renewals. These $10 passes help maintain and allow entry to state parks, but the grants can go to county parks as well.  If received, Muskegon County hopes to use $50,000 in grant money on Patterson Park to replace its restrooms with inclusive, or accessible, facilities.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund’s goal is “to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States,” according to the State of Michigan’s web site.  Muskegon County will use the potential $50,000 grant from this fund to install “inclusive playground equipment” at Meinert Park.

If awarded, Pioneer Park will also receive new inclusive playground equipment; the county will apply for a $50,000 grant from the MNRTF, whose goal is “to provide a source of funding for the public acquisition of lands for resource protection and public outdoor recreation” and is funded by the sale of a portion of the state’s petroleum and other mineral rights.

In each case, Muskegon County must provide matching funds, which vary per project: $25,000 for Meinert Park and $12,500 each for Pioneer and Patterson Parks.  These costs will be paid by the county’s Solid Waste Fund, as well as the costs of clearing and preparing each park for installation.

Each must be applied for separately and there is no guarantee all three will be awarded; county support to apply for the grants was unanimous on all three measures.  Grant deadlines are April 1 or April 2, depending on the grant.  Review is a several-month process; Muskegon County will know each outcome in the fall.

The county currently has seven properties they designate as “parks”: Meinert County Park in Montague, Deremo and Blue Lake Parks in Blue Lake Township, Twin Lake County Park in Twin Lake, Moore County Park in Moorland Township, Patterson County Park in Ravenna Township, and Pioneer Park just north end of Muskegon State Park.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst