By Scott Sullivan
Saugatuck City Council Monday adopted a 5-year parks and recreation master plan meant as an advisory guide for officials on future projects.
The plan, developed by Fleis & VandenBrink engineers for the city, is separate from the joint 5-year Saugatuck Douglas Area Parks & Recreation Plan adopted by Saugatuck Township Jan. 2 and Douglas Jan. 7. Saugatuck Public Schools are also partners in this document.
Maintaining updated 5-year parks plans allows local municipalities to apply for state grants to help fund improvements and, in some cases, acquire new land.
Saugatuck city — which has more expansive facilities such as the 173-acre Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, 100-acre Mt. Baldhead Park and 50-acre Oval Beach than its neighbors — spent $519,725 on parks operation during fiscal year 2017-18, Fleis reported. Summer Oval Beach parking fees and concession revenues offset some of this.
Other city parks are the 16-acre Mildred A. Peterson Nature Preserve and Interurban Trail, 2.5-acre Village Square Park, 1-acre Cook Park, 0.5-acre Coghlin Park, 0.5-acre Wicks Park, 0.5-acre Jones Park, 0.1-acre Willow Park and 0.1-acre Mize Rose Garden.
The city also maintains the Spear Street boat ramp and owns 154 undeveloped acres in Saugatuck Township commonly referred to as the Old Airport.
To gather input, Saugatuck held a public planning workshop and parks tour Aug. 30, 2016; published an online community-wide survey in October-November that received 249 responses; held a Jan. 18, 2017, public planning workshop that resulted in a draft report presented at March 13, 2017, public hearing; and held a Jan. 10 workshop regarding the 5-year plan prior to Monday’s meeting.
Survey results ranked Oval Beach first for highest use at 33 percent; followed by Wicks Park, 26 percent; Mt. Baldhead, 17 percent; Village Square, 9 percent; Coghlin, 8.5 percent; Peterson Preserve 3.5 percent; Cook, 1.5 percent; and Willow, 0.5 percent.
Highest priorities listed were improvements to:
- Coghlin Park, specifically upgrades to the shoppers dock boat facility.
- Mt. Baldhead Park, including rebuilding the upper deck, parking and restroom upgrades.
- Storage building expansion at Oval Beach, and
- Oval Beach restroom-concessions-shower building improvements.
“As grant opportunities come up,” the plan notes, “these priorities may need to be adjusted to take advantage of funding opportunities.
“The keys beyond the specific projects are the parks identified, specifically Coghlin, Oval Beach, Mt. Baldhead, Village Square and Wicks parks,” it says.
The document projects a capital improvement schedule starting in 2019 with the Coghlin Park shoppers dock for an estimated $180,000, funded by a $90,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways grant and equal city match.
In 2020 it sees a possible $385,000 in improvements to Mt. Baldhead parking, restrooms and upper-level deck, drawing on a $150,000 DNR Passport Program grant, equal city match and $85,000 tapping other grant dollars and donations.
The Oval Beach storage building would be expanded for $30,000 in 2021, drawing on city funding.
The most-ambitious project, an estimated $600,000 in 2022, would see Oval Beach restroom-concessions-shower building and playground improvements paid for by a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant matched by local donations and foundations.
In 2023 the city would spend $4,000 for its next recreation plan update.
To review the document, go to saugatuckcity.com/ index.php/parks-recreation/parks-master-plan.