Rep. Sharon Tyler: Trust fund grants benefit local communitiesPublished 11:22pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012
It’s a shame it has taken so long, but I am glad to announce that the Natural Resources Trust Fund Grants to develop area-wide recreation facilities in Dowagiac, Silver Creek Township and Buchanan are finally on their way to the governor for his signature.
Although I am excited to see these funds put to great use in our community, it’s important to point out that these funds are very specific. The money for such projects is given annually from the state’s mineral, oil and gas royalties, which are constitutionally linked to acquiring land and developing parks. Even if we wanted to, we could not use this money for any other need in our community (say tax cuts or school funding), which, given today’s economy, is how many of us might prefer to use them.
That being said, I believe these three community projects are great examples of how this money can be used to create outdoor recreation facilities for the entire community to use.
The City of Buchanan will receive $288,000 from the Natural Resources Trust Fund to help extend the McCoy’s Creek Trail alongside the creek and to reuse an old railroad right-of-way. Once this project is completed, you will be able to take the trail from the area of the Tin Shop Theatre to the southwestern corner of the city. The application submitted by the Friends of McCoy’s Creek Trail also received an impressive review from the staff of the trust fund, and it was given the highest score of any proposal submitted this year.
At Russom Park, the City of Dowagiac and Silver Creek Township will receive $300,000 and $298,200 respectively to develop their joint Park Master Plan that outlines roadways, parking, paved walking trails and playgrounds to help residents of all levels and abilities enjoy the outdoors. Improved youth sports facilities; improved restrooms and concession facilities that meet universal access requirements; organized driveways and parking for neighbors, parents and grandparents; a play area for kids and families, walking trails with smooth surfaces for senior citizens; and a possible shelter for picnics and gatherings are all part of the building blocks for an outstanding community use of these funds.
One of the benefits of living here in southwest Michigan is our beautiful surroundings. These funds will not only help expand our park systems and make the outdoors accessible to more community members, but the projects they support will help put people to work, which is a win-win situation — good for our community and good for our economy.
In total, lawmakers allocated $39.6 million for 99 projects across the state.
By maintaining our parks and natural spaces with these funds, we are preserving a tradition of dedication to our natural resources. It’s Pure Michigan.
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