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Master Park Plan ready, set, go

February 26, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

For the past year Orion Township Parks and Recreation administration has been hard at work prioritizing community goals for Orion's green space.

The Orion Township Board of Trustees approved and adopted the Parks and Recreation Master Plan at the February 18 meeting after aggregating suggestions, opinions, and revenue-making options.

Over the next few weeks the state of Michigan will file the plan within the Department of Natural Resources, allowing Orion Township's consulting firm Carlisle Wortman to start with the grant process.

"I think what we're probably looking at as our primary project is ball field lighting, and we will probably focus on Friendship Park at this point to trying to light the ball fields there," Community Programs Director Lisa Sokol said.

That ball-park project would cost roughly $500,000 to $600,000, which the grant could alleviate $100,000 of.

"We request dollars in capital outlay, or capital expenditure, that would go towards certain projects that we're going to fund for renovations. So there's money in there for updating all the signage at the parks. There's money in there for putting electronic signs at the township hall and Orion Center. There's money that we would be allocated for park improvements," Sokol said.

Safety path projects are a separate millage, so they will determine through the safety path committee what projects to select and fund.

"Parks and Rec doesn't have a dedicated millage, so what we usually do is put requests at budget time through to the board of projects that we wanted to fund, and the rationale for why we want to fund it. The board will approve a capital expenditure plan, and those projects are put on a list with funds allocated to them," Sokol said.

She mentioned there are many new sponsorship opportunities to help supplement parks and recreation programs that local businesses donated, such as memorial benches, tree memorials and t-shirts. "It's a way that we look at things that are in the master plan to try and gear it out to either local residents or community members and businesses to help us try and fund what's not covered necessarily in our budget," Sokol said.

More than 400 people did the online survey, and about 100 participants came to the open house.

February 18 was the last opportunity for the public to make any suggestions for the master park survey, which will be available at in the next couple weeks.

Sokol said the program is always open to new ideas.

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