BERRIEN SPRINGS — Oronoko Township has a new parks and recreation plan in place after a public hearing and action by township board members Tuesday night. The new plan is for five years, from 2019 to 2023.

Township Supervisor Mike Hildebrand said the plan is needed not only to apply for state grants now and into the future, but also to serve as a guide for future park and recreational developments. The plan was put together by the Williams & Works planning firm after input from township officials and residents, including an online survey.

The new plan highlights the existing offerings in the township and surrounding area, plus goals and objectives for coming years. It recognizes one project the township already has gotten a state grant for – the development of a new park with fields and other amenities, behind the public safety building on Snow Road.

Relative to developing township parklands, objectives include developing township-owned Snow Road properties to link Feather Park to the public safety building, emphasizing activities for young families and exploring pet-friendly amenities at existing parks with a fenced in dog park and hiking trails.

Other goals include continuing to address the area’s water resources such as Lake Chapin, working with the Greater Berrien Springs Recreation Department when it comes to park programming, cooperating with Andrews University and the village of Berrien Springs on projects, and develop local trails and connections to regional trails.

The plan’s action strategies list a number of short-, medium- and long-term goals, plus ongoing goals, including the new medium-range goals of developing neighborhood parks in the First, Second and Third Street areas, plus coordinating water recreation facilities with the village at Wolf’s Prairie Park.

Other goals include coordinating future road improvements to include paved shoulders and bike lanes, as well as ongoing goals of providing additional support for non-motorized trails, better marketing the area’s parks and recreational facilities, and supporting Greater Berrien Springs Recreation Department programs.

The township follows in the footsteps of the village of Berrien Springs, which approved its own new plan last summer.

The village’s five year plan runs through 2022 and listed 10 goals, including prioritizing recreation projects within the village and improving public access to the St. Joseph River and Lake Chapin, plus coordinating recreational facility improvements with surrounding townships and other organizations.

That plan’s focus was on local parks, as well as Lake Chapin and the St. Joseph River.