SCOTTVILLE — Officials in Scottville have signed off on a five-year parks and recreation plan with the goal of qualifying the city for more grant dollars through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

A public hearing on the parks plan was held during Monday’s meeting of the city commission at City Hall, prior to a commission vote during which officials voted unanimously to approve the plan and seek grants through the state.

The plan is a requirement for many large-dollar-amount grants through the DNR, and City Manager Jimmy Newkirk stated that failure to approve it prior to Feb. 1 would have left the city with a wait time of “an entire calendar year” before it could qualify for the Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Land and Water Conservancy Fund and some DNR Waterways Program grants.

The city contracted with the engineering firm Fleis & Vanderbrink to put the plan together in October 2022.

Matt Biolette of Fleis & Vanderbrink told commissioners on Monday that the intent of the plan is to “take an inventory of the assets your community has in the parks and rec arena, really for the sole purpose of making you eligible for those grants.”

While Fleis & Vanderbrink consolidated the data for the plan, Newkirk said ideas originated with community thoughts and suggestions obtained during a summer survey by Scottville’s parks and recreation committee.

Fleis & Vanderbrink outlined six capital improvement projects for the plan’s 2023-2027 lifespan, including upgrades at Riverside Park for an estimated $600,000; a master plan of city parks, expected for cost $6,500; playground and surface improvements at McPhail Field and Riverside Park for an estimated $250,000; boat launch and parking improvements at Pere Marquette River costing roughly $125,000; and a recreation plan update with a $5,000 price tag.

The capital improvement projects are high-priority targets for the city, but no commitment has been made yet, according to Newkirk.

“This is just a big overhead view of where the best approach (is) to complete improvements, what some of the main focus areas need to be, and how to approach them over the next five years,” he said.

Newkirk said the next step in the process is getting the plan uploaded to the state’s MiGrants website, where the DNR will be able to access and review it during planned grant applications.

“It benefits us because they see we’ve planned it out,” Newkirk said. “They’ll see that it’s been through public review, it’s approved by the city commission. … The public has been involved, especially with the community survey. There’s been thought and there’s been a process behind it.”

Newkirk said now is the time to have the plan ready to support upcoming grant applications for park improvements.

“There’s significant money (available), especially right now. They’ve really been boosted up after COVID. There isn’t going to be another time where opportunities to tap grants like this will happen again,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re ready to go and get some major improvements.”

FALL FESTIVAL

Scottville’s summer 10 & 31 Celebration has been called off, but the Fall Festival is slated to make a return on Sept. 16.

The city will be looking for some volunteers to help the Downtown Development Authority ensure the event is a success.

The plan is not to replicate the two-day event that took place in 2022 with a concert from the Verve Pipe. Rather, the city hopes to get some new volunteers involved with the DDA to put together a one-day festival with various activities and events, some pulled from the now-defunct 10 & 31 Celebration.

Newkirk said the DDA needs help, and that volunteers and new ideas are needed for the 2023 Fall Festival.

The long-term goal is to form a committee to head festival planning, but for now, Newkirk said he just wants to get the word out that volunteers are being sought.

More information about how to help will be released soon, Newkirk said.

OTHER BUSINESS

Also on Monday, the city approved adopting federal poverty guidelines for 2023, and accepted bids of $2,200 for a 2008 police vehicle and $2,620 for a 2013 police vehicle, both from Michael Austin.

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