By Rosemary K. Otzman
On Friday, Nov. 15, the Belleville Downtown Development Authority got the good news that its grant application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for funds to upgrade Horizon Park is rated #1 of all the applications received statewide.
DDA Coordinator Carol Thompson received the news in a letter on Friday and on Wednesday, at the regular DDA meeting, members were enthusiastic over the looming grant.
The recommendations for matching grants from the Natural Resources Trust Fund go before the fund board on Dec. 14 and its recommendation goes before the state legislature for final approval. It is unclear when that would happen.
The proposed Horizon Park lakeside upgrade project is expected to cost about $172,400.
At its Feb. 20 meeting the Belleville Downtown Development Authority voted unanimously to offer matching cash funds of 30%, to help get the state grant.
The lakeside project wouldn’t be ready for construction until 2014 and DDA Coordinator Thompson said they could put the matching amount of $51,720 in the 2013-14 budget or take it from the fund balance at that time.
After the DDA made this commitment to matching funds, the project went back to the city council which had to be the entity filing the grant application with the state.
The original proposed improvements called for an ADA-accessible, ramped floating pier attached to a fixed boardwalk, 10 new day slips for boaters/shopper docks, an ADA-accessible canoe/kayak launch, and amenities such as a canoe/kayak slide, an additional ADA parking space, signage, landscaping, benches and trash receptacles, and a concrete pad for an ADA-accessible picnic table.
Spicer Engineering, which brought the grant to the DDA’s attention, was paid $3,500 to design the grant project.
Chris Matson of Spicer said the project had been upgraded to have a fixed platform attached to the floating platform, and now it is all ADA-accessible. The proposed personal watercraft slips have been removed, he said.
The grant application was supported by the Huron River Watershed Council’s Water Trail and River Up! programs and Van Buren Township. A representative of an organization for disabled veterans at the University of Michigan spoke in favor of the kayak launch at the city’s public hearing.
Some $6,900 worth of upgrades to the structure of the present kiosk also includes a Huron River canoeing and kayaking map.
Thompson said if Belleville doesn’t get the full grant from the state, the DDA will reduce the amenities proposed. She said those seeking grants get higher up on the funding list by offering more in cash-matching. The minimum for the grant is 25% cash match and Spicer suggested going with 30%, which they did.
The Natural Resources Trust Fund consists of mineral royalties the state collected from 1976 to 2011, when the revenue source was diverted to a fund for state parks. The fund is restricted to spending $25 million to $35 million in annual interest earnings on land acquisitions and recreational development projects, according to fund manager Steve DeBrabander.
Grant applications were due April 1.
In September Thompson reported that the DDA got its preliminary score and, while the score was good, Spicer Engineers sent more information to the DNR to see if the score could be improved even more for the rescoring planned for December before being sent on for a final decision.
By Rosemary K. Otzman