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Ludlow tot lot playground could soon see improvements

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 23, 2020

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ROCHESTER — The city of Rochester is hoping to get grant funding from the state to update the tot lot playground, near Ludlow Avenue, in Rochester Municipal Park.

Rochester City Manager Blaine Wing said the city has been working on the project for about three years now.

In 2018, he said, city staff identified that the play sets for the tot lot by the Rochester Community House were deteriorating and were past the point of being able to get parts. In 2019, he said, the city retained Linda Davis-Kirksey, an expert in this specific grant area, who identified the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund — which offers up to a $300,000 grant, with a 25% local match — as the best option.

Wing said the city has since applied for a $300,000 grant from the MDNR Trust Fund.

“About a year and a half ago, we came before the council saying there was about $300,000 in improvements over in our park, and instead of asking for general fund dollars, we’re going after grant dollars,” he said.

Although the cost of the play set is around the grant level for phase 1, Wing said the city would continue with Davis-Kirksey to explore additional grant opportunities for phase 2, which could include underground work that needs to be done for proper drainage of the play area to the river, as well as getting proper Americans with Disabilities Act access.

“We’ve applied for a couple of different grants, so we’re hoping to leverage one grant and then build on that grant with another one, and put some city dollars with it, as well,” Wing explained.

Wing said the tot lot improvements will benefit children and adults with special needs, allowing them to safely explore and play with others of varied abilities.

To assist in securing grant funding, Rochester Finance Director Anthony Moggio said the city is collecting letters of support, sent to totlot@rochestermi.org, by June 30. A public hearing on the Ludlow tot lot plan was scheduled for July 13.

“Thank you to the public, everyone that has already submitted support letters. We have a whole bunch of them. We’ll post those for the public hearing night, and we’re going to continue to encourage anyone to submit, because we’re really trying to get this grant. The playground equipment is very expensive, and getting a $300,00 grant is huge. Especially now,” he said.

Wing said that if the state stays on track, the city should hear about any grant funding opportunities in the fall. At the earliest, he said, site work could start in spring of 2021.

For more information, visit www.rochestermi.org/totlot.

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