Mount Pleasant receives $1.52 million in grants for parks

Bridges, riverwalks and other improvements are on the way for Mount Pleasant parks in the near future, thanks to $1.52 million in grants.
The state of Michigan contributed $750,000 to the sum. The other half came from various places, said City Planner Tony Kulick.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, two taxes levied by the city for public-area improvement, an environmental fine issued to Total by the Department of Natural Resources and Character Counts Coalition also contributed.
Kulick said the city hopes to break ground this summer or fall and construction will take approximately two years.
Pickens Field, Island Park, Riverside Cemetery, Nelson Park, Mill Pond Park and Chipp-a-Waters Park will all undergo improvements, he said.
Under the city's plan, all of the parks will be connected by newly constructed trails along the Chippewa River. They will also receive new boat launches, fishing decks, gazebos and parking lots, he said.
Open water will be added to the marsh in Mill Pond Park to create biodiversity, Kulick said. Mill Pond Park will also receive two new bridges.
The bridge in Island Park will be reconstructed and moved to fit Americans With Disabilities standards, he said. Currently, the bridge is not wide enough for a wheelchair.
A trail in Nelson Park along the Chippewa River will be paved, and the bank will be stabilized with vegetation. This will improve water quality and reduce run-off into the river, Kulick said.
The new Riverwalk Trail System will connect all the parks from Pickens Field at Pickard Street to Chipp-a-Waters Park at High Street, which will allow walkers, bikers and in-line skaters to travel through all of the parks, Kulick said.
The trail system will also allow citizens to more easily observe the biodiversity in Chipp-a-Waters and Mill Pond Parks, he said.
"The trail system will allow people to walk into Chipp-a-Waters Park and have an educational opportunity," he said.
Kulick said the city is preserving parks because they are important to the community.
"It adds to the quality of life in our city," he said. "Parks help define the identity of our community. They add a stamp to the community."
Parks are important because they are used so much by the community, said Chris Bundy, director of recreation and sports parks.
"They're pretty much a personality and reflection of the community," he said.
"When you see the amount of public that spends time in the park, you know it's a priority."
Bundy said if Mount Pleasant parks were not preserved, they would be urbanized.
"If we left them the way they were, they would probably be neighborhoods by now," he said.
"There will never be a house built on these areas. It keeps them preserved for the future."
Kulick also said the city has two other grants pending for park improvement.
He said he hopes to receive $500,000 from the Michigan Department of Transportation and $50,000 from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This money would be used to buy 13 acres of wetland area next to Chipp-a-Waters Park.
A request for a grant for $600,000 from the Michigan DNR Trust Fund is currently in the works, Kulick said. The money would be used to remove one of the dams in Mill Pond Park. A new bridge would be built there, and possibly a series of rapids would be added.