Fundraising, Planning Work Begins On Civic Center Projects
After Grand Traverse County’s Parks and Recreation Officers approved a new master plan for the Civic Center last fall, efforts are now being made to fund and advance the first three park upgrade projects: the construction of a new bicycle safety / Competence / education center in the southeast quadrant of the park, the repair of the kilometer-long hiking trail and the addition of a new walking path as well as improvements to the park’s Indian marker tree. On Thursday, the parks and recreation officers unanimously approved a 15-year lease with Norte to begin development of the Grand Traverse Bike Education Center. In the first phase, a new pumping section and a new safety garden were set up.
With the lease, Norte can begin raising the roughly $ 500,000 needed to build the first phase of the center, which is two acres in the southeast corner of the community center near the basketball courts (Figure, Representation) . A pumping route – a route made up of rollers and curves that cyclists can ride without pedaling instead of continuing with a pumping impulse – is planned for the middle of the site and is designed by global route designer Velosolutions. “This will be a world-class facility,” says Tyte co-founder Ty Schmidt, who adds that Michigan only has one or two other pump tracks of the same caliber. A safety garden will teach cyclists about road safety by mimicking road conditions in a safe, controlled environment. Both of these amenities are designed to aid in skill building in cyclists, especially young bikers.
Part of the site is being expanded in a second construction phase and includes a new building for the Bike Education Center with offices, classrooms and a bike training shop. When the center is fully developed, it will be county-owned in the Civic Center, with Norte serving as the main tenant and program director. Once Norte has moved to the center, the nonprofit will terminate its lease for the wheelhouse and clubhouse that it currently uses in other areas of the park.
Under the new lease terms, Norte is responsible for engaging a civil engineering company this summer to prepare Phase 1 plans and submit a development plan and construction budget to the commissioners by September. The lease includes termination clauses for both Norte and the county – for example, if Norte determines that building the education center is not financially feasible – but the director of parks and recreation, Kristine Erickson, says she is confident that the organization will be successful. Of the many projects on the horizon for the Civic Center that will emerge from the new master plan, Erickson expects the Pump Traffic and Safety Garden to be the first to be built.
“I think Norte will rock it,” she says. “You have such a large following and have been looking forward to it for years.” Schmidt confirms that trust, saying Norte will consider a variety of funding sources – including local, state, and federal grants – as well as private donors to help achieve its goal. “It’s something we will do with a sense of urgency because there is massive demand for it … and we have community support,” he says. “We have 400 children on a waiting list right now.” Starting today at noon (Saturday) at 12:00 noon there will be a fundraising event for Norte and the Civic Center entitled “24 hours at the Civic Center”, in which the participants walk, bike, and run on the Civic Center path around the clock and roll hours. One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards improvements to the community center and into Norte grants.
Parks and Recreation staff are also working to raise funds for several other Civic Center projects. During the public submission process for the master plan, park users identified the sidewalk as a high priority for upgrades. Improvement plans include re-paving the path and making it universally accessible, as well as adding benches, exercise stations, signposts, and a three-foot walking path. The project is valued at just under $ 870,000. The Traverse City Track Club recently approved a $ 14,500 grant for the project, and Erickson says she continues to apply for grants and raise funds for the trail.
Parks and Recreation officials are seeking assistance from the County Commission on Wednesday for two grant applications to go to the Grand Traverse Band of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The first is a $ 70,000 grant for the estimated $ 152,000 Native American marker tree project, which includes installing a circular garden with native plants, winding paths, and educational signs around the tree. A parks and recreation subcommittee is currently working with the Influence Design Forum to finalize a concept for the tree area. The department also plans to apply for a $ 10,710 grant for a $ 13,110 project to upgrade the public toilets at the south end of the park. While there could still be a long way to go before some of these projects materialize, Erickson says she is excited to be taking steps to bring the new master plan to life.
“The Civic Center Park is experiencing a renaissance, and these projects are proof of that,” she says. “The community has stepped up the master site plan process and we now have a clear vision for the future of the park. We look forward to the start. “