Officials submit proposal to secure park land from state

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

KALKASKA – A collaborative effort to provide Kalkaska County residents with a new park and recreational facility has taken yet another important step forward.

According to Kalkaska Township Supervisor Mike Winters, local officials last week filed an application to purchase 160 acres on Island Lake Road, between Smith Lake and Airport roads, which would be the home for the new facility.

“We have mailed in the application to the state,” Winters said. “It should be in their hands by now.”

Kalkaska Township isn’t financing the proposed park and athletic fields. But, Winters said the township’s participation is necessary, as such projects require a municipality to be involved to gain state approval.

The township hosted what might be only the first of several public forums on Oct. 23 at the township hall on Laurel Street to educate county residents on the project to build a new park and multi-use facility.

“It went well,” Winters said. “We had, I’d guess, about 50 people. “We had nothing but positive feedback.”

Diana Needham, a longtime National Trout Festival board member and volunteer, said at least one more public forum will be held in the future, although a date for the informational gathering has yet to be scheduled.

“We’ll have another forum,” she said. “It’s going to be open to the public, just like the first one.”

Plans for the site include various athletic fields for soccer, baseball and softball, as well as a derby ring, concert pavilion, a community recreation center, livestock showing areas, and paved and gravel parking areas.

The effort behind the proposed new park project is a collaboration between youth athletic groups, the National Trout Festival, Kalkaska Winterfest and the Kalkaska County Agricultural Fair, among potential others.

“Yes, we’re asking every potential user group which could be involved to put in their two cents,” Needham added.

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