The city of Ferndale is aiming to make improvements at Wilson Park in 2023. The upgrades at the park would include new play equipment, walking paths and a shade structure.

The city of Ferndale is aiming to make improvements at Wilson Park in 2023. The upgrades at the park would include new play equipment, walking paths and a shade structure.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Ferndale to apply for grants for Wilson, Martin Road park projects in 2023

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 11, 2021

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FERNDALE — The Ferndale City Council recently took up the subject of grant applications to help fund park projects at Martin Road and Wilson parks

At its March 8 meeting, the council approved resolutions of support and financial commitment for two grant applications through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

According to Parks and Recreation Director LaReina Wheeler, every year the Michigan Department of Natural Resources makes three different grants available; a Recreation Passport grant, a Trust Fund grant and a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. She described them all as similar, except a Recreation Passport grant allows for recreational improvements that are either inside or outside, while the Trust and Land and Water grants are for outdoor recreational projects only.

For Wilson Park, the city will be applying for the Trust Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund grants. Wheeler said that while the city is applying for two grants, it will at best get only one award. Applying for both simply increases the chances of getting funding.

The city held meetings as far back as 2018 with the community to learn what was wanted in Wilson. The project’s scope includes 10,000 square feet of walking paths; play equipment; a shade structure; landscaping; utilities; parking lot upgrades; and amenities such as benches and tables, drinking fountains and recycling bins

One of main objectives in applying for grants, Wheeler said, is that they wanted to make the parks more accessible.

“One of the things that we heard loud and clear from the community was there is no shade in the park, especially when they’re in the play area with their children,” she said. “We want to include some sort of shade structure to make it more comfortable.”

At Martin Road Park, Ferndale is applying for the Recreation Passport and Trust Fund grants. The monies the city hopes to obtain from one of these grants will help pay for 1,100 square feet of walking paths; a pavilion; a basketball court; landscaping; utilities; parking lot upgrades; and amenities such as benches and tables, drinking fountains, and trash and recycling bins.

All of these additions will follow the installation of a splash pad, which is scheduled for 2022. Wheeler said many of these improvements will make the splash pad more accessible.

“Our plan is to put in a walking path that’s approximately 1,100 square feet, and that path will be directly from the parking lot and connecting to the existing path at Martin Road Park on the east side,” she said. “Currently, there’s just gravel and grass from the parking lot to get to the path. So this will definitely make that park more accessible.”

The grant applications for Wilson are for $141,000 each. The city will match whichever grant it gets, bringing its budget to $282,000. Martin Road Park’s grant applications are for $101,000 from the Recreation Passport grant and $68,000 from the Trust Fund grant. The city will match $34,000 for the Recreation Passport and $68,000 for the Trust Fund.

The MDNR granting timeline was described as a much longer process than other grants. Ferndale will apply by April 1 and, in December, the grant awards will be announced. Those agreements will be executed in July 2022, and following a planning and bid process, construction will start in March 2023.

Mike Flores, of Ferndale, stated during the meeting that he bought his first home right across from Wilson Park in 2003. The park was one of the reasons he bought the house and it played a vital part in the development of how he understood a neighborhood to be in the Midwest and in Ferndale.

“To see it evolve over the years ... in Ferndale as I’ve moved through the quadrants and to see that park evolve, it just feels good,” he said. “I just have very, very fond memories of that park just because that’s where I started as a homeowner many, many years ago.”

Flores also said he considers Martin Road Park to be unique because it doesn’t just support the Ferndale community.

“It actually supports Hazel Park,” he said. “My partner and I are investors on several properties just east of Pilgrim (Avenue) in Hazel Park, and when we have potential tenants, they always identify how close they are to Martin (Road) Park as one of the key benefits of our properties just east of Pilgrim. So, again, I think any improvements to that park would not only benefit the Ferndale community, but also benefit our regional partner, Hazel Park, as well.”

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