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Brandon Recreation: Progress continues despite challenges

April 03, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Recreation is "standing tall" in the township.

This is how Fred Waybrant assesses the current state of the department he manages, which has been through plenty of challenges in the last few years, including a cut of two-thirds of the staff, elimination of an annual $15,000 funding contribution from Groveland Township, and a halt to seeking grants for further development.

Progress at the park continues despite the challenges, said Waybrant during a recreation department analysis at the April 1 township board meeting. He also noted that last year's recreation participation, with about 1,700 registrations, was the highest number of participants the department has had since 2007.

"It's a never ending battle, but the outcome is rewarding," said the recreation director. "It's a battle to keep revenues and keep us afloat. We're still offering good programs, and new ones, trying to keep those kids moving. Our mission statement is to bring lasting memories through community and recreation and we are keeping it there."

During the board meeting, Waybrant presented the possibility of bringing a 9-hole disc golf course to the Brandon Township Community Park, 1414 Hadley Road. Establishment of the course would be fully funded through hole sponsors; however, whether disc golf will be played at the park remains to be seen as the board considers whether the sport would violate the "passive" nature of the section of the park where the course would be placed.

"I can't give a true answer on whether it will move forward or not happen at all," said Waybrant, who said a decision may be made during a special April 18 board meeting. The 10 or 11-acre course would begin in phase one, an active part of the park, but the last six holes would be in phase 3 of the park, where a tree library is located.

The first and third phases of the park have been developed much according to a 5-year park plan that was established in 2009. However, due to financial challenges, the second phase of the park— which is to include four ball fields, parking for 380 cars, concession stands, and bathrooms— has stalled. Coincidentally, baseball is the most popular recreation program.

Waybrant is hoping to get the ball rolling again with help from the recreation sub-committee as a new 5-year plan for the park is drawn up. He also wants to get the go-ahead from the township board to apply for land and water conservation grants from the DNR in order to develop the park further.

He recently was approached by some DNR employees.

"The DNR wondered what happened to us because we were on a roll (with grants)," said Waybrant. "They understand we've had economic problems."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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