WATERVLIET — Watervliet Township trustees heard an update Monday night on the status of an ambitious new five-year parks and recreation plan being developed, and appear poised to formally approve the plan at next month’s board meeting.
When it receives approval the new plan will allow the township to apply for grants through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Cindy LaGrow, of LaGrow Consulting, was retained last year to help put together the new plan, and since then has helped oversee a lengthy planning process that included a public comment period, followed by a public meeting held last month. The process also required an extensive assessment of all public and private park-and-rec properties in the area.
On Monday, LaGrow offered a report that listed a proposed “Action Program” that focuses on “improving existing parks, acquiring additional land to expand the parks system and developing a linear trail system” designed to separate vehicle traffic from pedestrians at certain points.
The improvements have different priority levels, with some changes proposed for the current year, and others – such as the possible purchase of additional property for expansion of Sunset Beach, and installation of picnic tables and grills at the same beach – envisioned for the year 2022.
LaGrow stressed that while the plan must be formalized to enable pursuit of grant money, the township isn’t obliged to follow through on every project that will be listed. As a result, she said, the proposed projects spelled out in the plan represent a “wish list.”
In other business, township Supervisor Dan Hutchins strongly encouraged the township’s planning commission to expedite its effort to devise an ordinance regarding retail medical marijuana sales. The township board last year voted unanimously to OK medical marijuana facilities, Hutchins noted, but that despite public interest the issue remains “pretty much on hold” until the commission devises an ordinance that township trustees can vote on.