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Recreation Plan Receives DNR Approval

13-May-2016

DNR Approves Manistee County Recreation Plan

Manistee County recently received word that the Manistee County Recreation Plan is approved by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Congratulations are in order for the Recreation Plan Leadership Team, made up of individuals from each of the 20 community’s in Manistee County who championed and guided this project, elected leaders, and residents who worked hard at making development of this Plan a reality.  This ground breaking, never been done before in the State of Michigan, planning process was guided by Rob Carson, A.I.C.P., Planning Director Manistee County Planning Department and Tamara Buswinka, A.I.C.P., Community Development Director for the Alliance for Economic Success.  

“Being on the Recreation Leadership Team was the first time I had ever sat in a room with someone from every community in Manistee County present.  I realized how much we all have in common and that by working together we can get things done,” said Joe Frederick, Arcadia Township Recreation Leadership Team member.

DNR approval allows for communities to submit grant applications to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to implement their projects.  Preparation of the Plan also unifies the community and county around shared priorities that, collectively, are important.  One such collective priority is for the development of connected non-motorized bike paths throughout the County that not only links important recreational sites but also community’s together.  Access to water and public land is also a shared priority.

“The data gathered for the Plan was extensive and very impressive.  We were able to use the data to make decisions based in fact without politics or as the result of the loudest voice in the room.  Each Planning Commission and Township Board/Council reviewed the data to make sure it was correct and then to set goals for their community,” said Elaine Gibbs, Village of Copemish Recreation Leadership Team member.

The County Recreation Plan is actually a compilation of all the individual community recreation plans into one document with emphasis on highlighting shared priorities.  The County Recreation Plan was prepared with efficiencies in mind and formatted so that the document can be viewed as a whole or separated for individual community use.  Extensive effort was made to get public input, including involving students from all the high schools in the County to gather the youth’s perspective on recreation.  An on line survey, public engagement meetings, and public hearings were held in each community to ask folks about their recreational preferences, opportunities, and areas that need improvement.

“While it wasn’t always easy, making sure we worked hard to ask questions and listen to the public’s answers about recreation was a priority for us (the Leadership Team),” said Erin Pontiac, City of Manistee Recreation Leadership Team member.

As a result of the Plan’s approval, implementation has begun.  The Alliance for Economic Success recently invited every community in Manistee County to meet to discuss the grant application process and possible projects for submission.  Because a shared priority throughout the County is access to water, the Explore the Shores Program was highlighted as a possible way to provide not only access to water, but also to ensure that the access is universally accessible.