Clarkston Mayor Eric Haven describes improvement plans for Depot Park at a vision session, Feb. 21. Photo by Phil Custodio
BY PHIL CUSTODIO
Clarkston News Editor
Hopes are high for the Depot Park fundraising project.
“The buzz has been good. We’re optimistic about it,” said Eric Haven, Clarkston mayor and member of Friends of Depot Park. “We hopeful about getting to $50,000 or maybe more.”
Haven and Chris Nordstrom, landscape architect and planner with Carlisle/Wortman Associates, hosted the vision and public input session with about 30 residents, Feb. 21 at Clarkston Independence District Library.
The city is seeking a $50,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for the Depot Park plan, Nordstrom said.
With $50,000 in matching funds, materials, and services from the community, the total would be $100,000 for the plan, which includes a new playscape in the playground, water-permeable pathways compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and upgraded playground surfaces. Plans also include expanding the rain garden south of existing pathways to the bank of the Mill Race, and wrap-around ramp on the pavilion to allow wheelchair access to the deck. Water pipes and electrical and sound wires could also be installed throughout the park.
Donations from the community can include cash, stocks, and bonds, IRA distributions, and legacy life insurance, real estate, endowments, and bequests. Volunteers can also donate “in-kind” professional services, labor, materials such as concrete and lumber, advertising, grant writing hours, fundraising phone solicitation time, and restaurant box lunches for volunteer workers. People can also write letters of support for the project.
“That would all go to the matching funds,” Haven said.
Pledges would be needed by March 11, but donations would not have to be made until Oct. 1. They could also be made contingent on successfully receiving the grant, he said.
“It comes down to a willingness to do this. This is a long-term project,” he said. “If everyone does at least one thing, we could get the momentum to go on.”
Friends of Depot Park and Clarkston Area Optimists Club worked together in 2018 to install musical play equipment, native plants along Mill Race to reduce erosion along the banks, started a “Go Fund Me” account to raise money for new playground equipment, and created a draft concept plan for future park development.
The DNR fund awarded $15 million in grants last year, based on a point-based system. ADA compliance, water-permeable paths, biologically sustainable rain garden, and other environmentally-friendly items all add points to the grant application, Nordstrom said.
Clarkston loses out on points for being relatively affluent, which is why it is seeking a 50 percent match, he said.
Next steps include a public hearing on March 11, with possible City Council resolution authorizing grant submittal. The grant-application deadline is April 1.
The DNR will provide feedback and allow some adjustments to applications over the summer, and announce development project recommendations in December.
The state legislature approves the budget, which includes the grants, in early spring 2020. Approved grant projects need to be completed by 2022, within two years of formal grant award.
Fundraising for Phase II could begin in summer 2019, Haven said.
Clarkston’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan for 2018-2022, adopted on Feb. 12, 2018, makes Clarkston eligible to receive grant funding through three separate grant programs managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Recreation Passport; Land and Water Conservation Fund; and Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Email Haven at HavenEric@Gmail.Com, or call City Manager Jonathan Smith at 248-625-1559.