Archived Story

Dear John: What about Russom Park?

Published 9:35pm Thursday, May 3, 2012

When will they start work on Russom Park and what will it offer the community? —   Dan Leversen

Good question.

“Right now it’s in a holding pattern,” according to consultant Gary Carlile.

Dowagiac and Silver Creek Township hoped to start moving earth in July as soon as Little League baseball season concludes, but grant money remains bottled up in the Senate. They can’t spend any money until Department of Natural Resources trust funds are released.

“We don’t know if we’ll get anything done this year,” Silver Creek Township Supervisor Bill Saunders lamented Thursday.

Saunders said the goal for 2012 encompasses parking, walking track and starting on an American Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant children’s playground.

Carlile phoned the grant administrator and “didn’t get the news I wanted.”

He was told Senate politics is holding up DNR-related items.

“I’m very concerned” it’s “down the tubes for this season,” Carlile said Thursday.

Last December the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund approved the request for almost $600,000 in grant money for Russom Field improvements.

Dowagiac and Silver Creek cooperatively acquired the 36 acres of parkland in 2008.

Keith and Betty Russom of Yaw Street in 1969 permitted the then-fledgling youth baseball association to develop three baseball diamonds on their land at the corner with Middle Crossing Road.

Silver Creek receives $298,176, requiring a 30-percent match for development of about 18 acres. The grant would provide funds to develop parking for 205 vehicles, roadway to accommodate use by the community’s youth soccer program, an eight-inch well, a three-quarter-mile asphalt walking path, the handicapped accessible playground and park landscaping.

Dowagiac receives $298,000, also requiring 30-percent match, for development of 17.83 acres. These funds will be used to develop a 325-car parking area and roadway to serve existing improvements completed by Dowagiac Baseball Association since 1969. Also funded was a quarter-mile asphalt walking trail, a handicapped accessible play area and park landscaping.

Although funds were awarded in two separate grants, the cooperative project has been viewed since its inception as a joint effort.

Silver Creek and Dowagiac each appointed three members to a Russom Park Committee in 2010 which solicited community input incorporated into the grant application. Plans took shape during a year of meetings.

The concept is to improve the 36 acres with each “half” designed to complement the other.

The first phase outlines the need for baseball and soccer parking.

Although both the township and city were funded for walking trails, they are complementary, resulting in a mile circling the park.

Similarly, the play area to be developed on the center “boundary” serves the entire acreage.

Do you have a question about the Dowagiac area? Email your questions to john.eby@leaderpub.com.

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