New Buffalo, Mich (WNDU) Inside the New Buffalo Township Hall Wednesday night, the Berrien County Parks and Recreation Commission was talking their five year plan.
Just outside the hall, New Buffalo residents enjoyed a night in the park, eating with friends and family and taking in some live music.
“We have so much of nature's treasure in our back yards, “Blagica Bottigliero says. “Living here is a little treasure, and a little secret that more people are discovering. So I just think this would help Southwest Michigan in more ways than people could imagine."
The commissioners hoping citizens will tap to the beat of their five year plan as they get the ball rolling on finalizing plans for a draft. So what does the commission have planned?
"We have some aging infrastructure," Brian Bailey, Director of Parks and Recreation for Berrien County says. “Our concession stands at Silver Beach is starting to age very quickly and that's going to need to upgraded along with the playgrounds. In 2022, the playgrounds of Silver Beach there are going to be 30-years-old and its time for those to be upgraded."
That’ll cost a quarter of a million dollars, and as for other projects?
"We have a chance to expand Paw Paw River County Park and pick up 65 acres of property that are across the river from there. We've applied for a grant for that."
There are plans for Berrien Springs as well.
"We do have the 1839 courthouse structure in Berrien Springs, that will need $25,000 in electrical upgrades in the next couple years."
More plans in New Buffalo.
"Galien River County Park to maybe put in some upgraded restrooms instead of the port-a-johns that are there,” Bailey adds.
The only point of disagreement tonight was regarding the connectivity of the proposed Linear Trail Park that will connect many of the parks in Berrien County, first starting on Red Arrow Highway. Overall, a lot of support for a plan that isn’t finalized, but a work in-progress.
"Moving forward, the input is coming from the public and we want to look at a draft of the five year plan available in October and it has to be up to the Michigan DNR on February first 2020,” Bailey says.
A local at Wednesday’s meeting believes the plan is right on track.
"To see the improvements to what the county's doing across all parks, both with infrastructure and making sure our park system is intact but also improving it for the future, is inspiring,” Bottigliero says.
Much of the funding for the upgrades is coming from grants and tax money. The Parks and Recreation Commission voted to increase a millage for parks from .10 to .20. That will have to be approved by the Berrien County Board of Commissioners in order to take effect. It was said in the meeting that the .10 millage alone generates $800,000 in yearly revenue.