Cass parks awarded Pokagon Fund grantPublished 12:02pm Thursday, August 1, 2013
CASSOPOLIS — In what is expected to eventually lead to an increase in tourism for Cass County, the county’s Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded $9,800 from the Pokagon Fund to develop a master plan for Arthur Dodd Memorial Park in Pokagon Township.
The plan, which is expected to take up to one year to create, will be developed by the landscape architectural firm of O’Boyle, Blalock and Associates Inc., which has offices in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.
The firm is certified in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) with experience in parks and recreation development and environmental sustainability.
The master plan, an outgrowth of the county’s recently completed 2013-2017 Community, Park, Recreation, Open Space and Greenway Plan, will guide future planning, development and sustainability of the national resources, recreation facilities and opportunities within the 51-acre Dodd Park, located at 61437 Creek Road, near Sumnerville.
A priority of the plan will be to lay out an access site from the park’s entrance on Creek Road to the Dowagiac River that canoers, kayakers and rafters can use specifically to carry in and carry out their river crafts.
This launch is expected to complement plans the Pokagon Band has proposed for other launches upstream from the park along the river.
Based on departmental goals and public input, the plan also will be used to determine if camping facilities could be introduced as a revenue source for future park sustainability.
Once the plan is developed with the public input, the park’s areas can be enhanced with more features such as restroom facilities, a scenic viewing platform, fishing piers along the trout-filled meanders, a walking bridge and river trails to keep pace with county growth patterns.
The park currently serves 15,000 to 20,000 county and regional visitors annually.
The park was leased for many years by the Cass County Road Commission from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
In 2007, the group, MEANDRS (Meeting Ecological and Agricultural Needs of the Dowagiac River), using grant money from the DNR, reconnected a one-half mile stretch of the river to its original flow path and flood plain from the 1930s.
The park was deeded over to the county by the DNR in 2009 in exchange for two properties that the county owned on a local Cass County lake.
The Pokagon Fund supports projects that enhance lives of residents in New Buffalo and surrounding communities as well as sites where the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians own lands, such as Dowagiac and South Bend, Ind.