State lawmakers sign $100k grant petition to aid funding barrier-free park

By: Nick Mordowanec, | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 9, 2015

FRASER — Building a park is not easy, and constructing a one-of-a-kind venture takes time. And funding.


Sometimes, it takes a lot of time. And a lot of funding.


Such has been the case with the McKinley Barrier-Free Park in Fraser. Numerous grants have been submitted and accepted since the idea was conceived several years ago.


As construction has begun in the past few months, many — including those at the Fraser First Booster Club, who have been responsible for concepts, grant submissions and publicity — have wondered when the final rendition of the park will be complete.


Finishing dates have changed as grant requests and construction times have simultaneously altered, with unforeseen circumstances such as weather also impacting the development.


Now, there may be hope in one more grant that has received support from state delegates in Lansing.


With the booster club seeking support for a $100,000 DTE Foundation grant, it was suggested to reach out to state senators and representatives as a message of solidarity for the park’s ultimate completion.


According to Fraser First Booster Club President Vania Apps, John Fleming — the former aide of state Rep. Marilyn Lane, D-31st District — took the initiative and attained numerous signatures, including Lane herself, along with many others from Macomb County: Sen. Stephen Bieda, D-9th District; Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-18th District; Rep. Henry Yanez, D-25th District; Rep. Derek Miller, D-28th District; Rep. John Chirkun, D-22nd District; Rep. Jeff Farrington, R-30th District; Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, R-32nd District; Rep. Peter Lucido, R-36th District; Rep. Ken Goike, R-33rd District; Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-24th District; Sen. Tory Rocca, R-10th District; and Sen. Jack Brandenburg, R-8th District.


Lane, a member of House committees for transportation and infrastructure as well as regulatory reform and energy, said DTE’s large community presence could help advance the park funding process.


As for all the signatures obtained, she said she explained the process to each individual member and what it means to not only Fraser, but all of Macomb County.


“To have signatures of all (Republicans) and (Democrats), it’s a pretty big statement to get everyone in support of something,” Lane said.


Apps said the future is unknown in terms of this specific grant, but the signatures can only help the cause.


On Sept. 1, Fraser First launched a community challenge to help raise $10,000 to match a grant submission to the Daughters of the American Revolution — which would help complete funding for the park’s fire truck playscape.


Upcoming events include an Oct. 5 ribbon cutting to celebrate the first phase’s completion, and on Oct. 10 Fraser First is hosting Walk and Roll — an event featuring arts and crafts, a park walk, and other activities.


All these efforts are to bring the playground, landscaping and sensory gardens — which are part of the second phase — to the park by 2016, according to Apps, and the more funds received will result in more beauty, education and inclusiveness.


“There are already a lot of people using the walking path, and it technically isn’t open yet,” Apps said. “I found it so gratifying to see kids on bikes use the path, along with those who were walking and folks walking their dogs and everyone being respectful of each other.


“I hope that will be the norm for the path. I can’t wait until the parking lot is done so more people can enjoy the path. It’s really a wonderful half-mile walk.”


As for the DTE grant, time will tell whether the signatures have a major impact on the process.


Lane said sometimes there are hearings to ponder certain grant applications, and she hopes DTE takes it seriously because a positive decision would carry “a lot of significance” in the outcome of the park.


“The Fraser First Booster Club has worked tirelessly and for a long period of time,” Lane said. “It would be an opportunity to have that dream come true.”