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January 22, 2014

Utica Parks and Rec five-year plan nears completion

Officials call for public input on final draft

By Sarah Wojcik
C & G Staff Writer

UTICA — For the past year, the city has been working to develop a new five-year parks, recreation and open space master plan. The new plan will guide park development and investments in recreation amenities through 2018.

The new plan includes a comprehensive community profile, updated administrative structure, detailed inventory of parks, new goals and objectives, and an action plan for investments and improvements.

In order to be eligible for state parks and recreation grants, municipalities must have an active, approved five-year master plan, said Macomb Planning and Economic Development Director Stephen Cassin. Utica last updated its plan in 2007.

The document will be available for public review and comment through Feb. 11. Residents can view the draft at www.cityofutica.org, and hard copies are available for review at Utica City Hall and the Utica Public Library, located at 7550 and 7530 Auburn Road, respectively.

A public hearing for input is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. Feb. 11 at the next City Council meeting at City Hall. Comments also may be mailed to Utica City Hall, Rec Plan Comments, 7550 Auburn Road, Utica, MI 48317.

The draft includes short- and long-term goals for Grant, Memorial and Heritage parks and the undeveloped 25-acre Utica Recreation Area that straddles the Clinton River in the northeast corner of the city.

Improvements include a connection of the Macomb Orchard Trail through Memorial Park, the Utica Recreation Area and River Bends Park in Shelby Township. The connection is possible because of a $1.9 million federal transportation enhancement grant, which will ultimately connect Richmond to Lake Saint Clair Metropark.

In 2014, the city also plans to add a handicapped-accessible comfort station at Heritage Park, as well as pedestrian connections between the neighborhood adjacent to Grant Park and the neighborhood near Eppler Junior High School, west of Van Dyke Avenue.

“If we haven’t done what you think we needed to do, (the plan) is in its final draft, but we’ll make amendments,” Mayor Jacqueline Noonan said. “We’re looking for input from preschoolers to the elderly as to what this city should be doing as far as the parks, recreation and open space master plan.”

If the City Council approves the draft Feb. 11, the Parks and Recreation Department will adopt the plan Feb. 23 and submit it to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources by March 1, Noonan said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at swojcik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.