By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
The City of Wyoming received a yearend bonus from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust this month when it was awarded a $300,000 grant to help rebuild Ideal Park.
Announced last week, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board’s recommendations totaled more than $47.6 million for projects in 2017. This included $19.9 million in recreational development and $27.7 million in land acquisition projects. Of the $19.9 million recreational development funds, the City of Wyoming received one of the largest grants of $300,000.
City officials had made it clear that the grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust was key in helping to rebuild the park which was devastated during a 2014 tornado wiping out the park’s playground, tennis and basketball courts and a majority of the trees.
“We are extremely excited that our City has been chosen by the state as a grant recipient for 2017,” said Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll. “The grant awarded by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund will allow the City to continue restoring Ideal Park, which sustained tremendous damage after the (2014) EF-1 tornado touched down.
“There is still more work to be done, but the state grant allows us to tackle some of the most pressing issues.”
The city spent the next two years cleaning up the park, located at 5843 Crippen Ave. SW, and just reopened it this past summer. The park currently does not have any playground equipment or basketball or tennis courts.
Because of the amount of damage caused by the tornado, it gave city officials and residents a chance to review the current layout of Ideal Park and consider some improvements in access and safety, said Rebecca Rynbrandt, Wyoming’s director of community services.
“What the city had done in the past with Ideal Park was to maintain the historical heritage of the park for the community,” Rynbrandt said. In fact, Ideal Park pre-dates the City of Wyoming, having been created in the 1930s.
One of its natural features is that Buck Creek runs through the middle of the park with bridges providing access to most of the parks amenities such as the shelters and former playground area. This also created limited access for emergency personal and others if something should happen at the park, Rynbrandt said.
So the city began to look at ways to reconfigure access into the park with a new gateway from Crippen Street, a new drive from Crippen Street to east lot and a connector drive to Averill Avenue. Other improved security and access include a connector path from art deco bridge to the west lot, lighting in parking areas, a new west parking lot gate, new natural area between Park Drive and west lot, open play area with irrigation, basketball court, trailhead signage, a footpath trail to connect to existing pathway and interurban trail and a new creek overlook.
The $300,000 grant money will be combined with with about $508,000 the city has to move forward on the first phase for Ideal Park, Rynbrandt said. That includes developing construction drawings and hopefully going out for bids at the end of 2017 or beginning of 2018 with construction starting in 2018, she said.
The City of Wyoming has a five-year parks plan which shows more than $26 million in capital need such as major maintenance and replacing of assets such as playgrounds, fencing and trail work. Among those capital improvements is funding the master plans for Ferrand, Oriole Phase II, Jackson and Gezon. In May, Wyoming will ask voters to allow City leadership to change the way dollars can be spent under the dedicated Library Maintenance millage to help with the capital improvements at the parks.
Two other Kent County municipalities received funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust, the City of Rockford for its Rogue River Nature Trail Phase IV, $150,000, and Algoma Township’s River’s Edge Park Development, $50,000. A total of 79 projects throughout Michigan received grants.