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Published: Wednesday, 3/21/2001

Park improvements may be joint venture

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Grand Rapids officials - both those in the village and township - are expressing interest in a joint project to improve a popular local park.

Working together as a team is a step in the right direction for the Grand Rapids area, some officials and area residents said. In the past, some problems have cropped up from time to time between the village and township.

The joint park-improvement project was discussed during village council's meeting last week, the same night that a special four-member committee turned in a report about the advantages and disadvantages of the village withdrawing from the townhip.

The committee, which was set up by Grand Rapids Mayor Jim Day to research the advantages and disadvantages of the village separating from the township, “feels forming a new township, or detachment, is not in the best interest of the village or the townhip,” according to the report.

The question of withdrawing from the township has cropped up now and again because residents raise questions about the value of staying in the township.

After reviewing several issues, including services provided by the township and the impact the separation would have on the current township fire department, the committee decided that it would be best for the township and village officials to put greater effort into improving communication between the two entities. One or two combined meetings each year to discuss joint projects was recommended by the committee.

Council did not vote to accept or reject the report. Mayor Day could not be reached for comment.

Pam Sherwood, village council member who served on the special committee, said that the committee, which met three times this year, decided that there would not be an advantage to withdrawing from the township. “We are one combined community. The electors elected us to work together and get the job done,” she said.

Township and village officials said they are excited about working together to improve the village park near the elementary school.

Trustee George Foos already has drawn up floor plans for a new concession stand for the project with hot running water. Preliminary plans include construction of restrooms and a storage building.

The improvements would be “something to benefit kids from the surrounding area, the village, the townships, Henry County, Lucas County,” said Mr. Foos, referring to youngsters who play ball at the park.

Removal of some older buildings also is being proposed to help make the park more attractive, he said. Further discussions about the project were scheduled to be held last night.

No cost estimates have been made, but the village has set aside $10,000, Ms. Sherwood said.

Mr. Foos would like to see residents, businesses, and others join in to help pay for the improvements. Other communities have been successful in drumming up private support to improve public parks, he said.

He drove around to Tontogany and Pemberville, visiting parks there to take photographs and measure facilities. “I got some good ideas and we will add a few of our own ideas. I hope we can do something similar to theirs,” he said.

Many nearby towns, including Bradner, Wayne, and Rudolph, have already created nice, attractive parks, he said. A nice park can make a good impression on visitors. “When people pull into the park here, I want them to go `Wow, that is nice.' It will give people a great impression of Grand Rapids.”



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