Douglas Moves Forward On Five-Year Recreational Plan; Saugatuck Doing Its Own
The Douglas City Council held a public hearing Monday for the Saugatuck-Douglas Area Five Year Recreational plan, 2019-2023, an updated and revised plan that includes an inventory of all the area’s parks, open spaces and greenways.
“The state (of Michigan) asks municipalities to have something on file in order to go through the grant process,” Nathan Williams of Prein & Newhof told The Local Observer about one the major benefits of updating the plan.
To be eligible to apply for Land and Water Conservation Fund, Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund and Waterways grants, communities must have an approved five-year plan filed with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources by Feb. 1st of the year they intend to apply for grant funding.
Besides grants, a plan helps communities prioritize future improvement projects for their parks systems.
The Saugatuck Township Board is expected to follow suit at its Jan. 2, 2019 hearing at the regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m.
All residents from Saugatuck, Douglas, Saugatuck Township and surrounding areas are welcome to attend the public hearing to hear about and comment on the plan’s development.
Commentary can also be submitted in writing up to the date of the hearing.
The plan is a joint effort by the Saugatuck Public Schools, The City of Douglas and Saugatuck Township.Saugatuck will be approving its own, separate five-year plan, a move that Douglas Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Harvath took issue with.
“They (Saugatuck officials) want to do something (develop the five-year plan on its own and not jointly) that is not forward thinking or better for the community,” said Harvath.
He further asked Williams and Douglas Community Development Director Lisa Imus, “By Saugatuck city choosing to go in their own direction, could there be competition for grant dollars?”
To which Imus responded with, “We are in competition with them every time both cities apply for a Michigan Trust Fund grant in the same year.”
Asked about Harvath’s comments, Saugatuck city officials told The Local Observer there were good reasons Saugatuck is deciding to proceed on its own.
“We are able to streamline and clarify our objectives better by having our own special plan,” noted Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier.
He added that Saugatuck has more parks than the township and Douglas.
While Saugatuck’s plan is not part of the joint plan, it does consider the surrounding park systems, noted Harrier.
Also, the State of Michigan, unlike previous practice, does not provide more grant scoring points if communities submit a joint recreational plan, he said.
The plan is available for review through Jan. 1, 2019 online at saugatucktownship.org or ci.douglas.mi.us as well as their respective offices.