Results unveiled for five-year parks and recreation master plan in Clinton Township

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published March 19, 2018

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Parks and Recreation Director Frank Pizzo likened any government department’s master plan to a type of road map, assessing the community and its residents and figuring out the next destination.

His department recently completed and reported findings from its 2018-2022 master plan during a township Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 20. The plan was prepared by the Spicer Group, a civil engineering and surveying firm based out of Saginaw. The plan will act as a community building itinerary throughout the next five years.

Alan Bean, a certified community planner with the Spicer Group, said he started working with the department this past fall, creating a comprehensive action plan complete with goals, objectives and planned projects. The plan also qualifies the township for grants able to be received by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“By spelling out your potential projects, you’re ahead of the game,” Bean said, adding that the township is a mature community with numerous parks and other aspects that can be touted.

The survey, which was distributed via the township website and the department’s social media pages, was a welcome revelation for Pizzo. After lackluster results during the last survey five years ago, the department received more than 1,200 responses this time around.

The township is sprawled across 28.1 square miles, oddly shaped geographically in an approximately 6-by-6-mile area. The 11-member Clinton Township Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee provides general recommendations and reviews for department functions, provided by the community at large, the Board of Trustees, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Department of Public Services, teen leaders and local school districts — which include Chippewa Valley, Clintondale, Fraser, L’Anse Creuse and Mount Clemens.

The Parks and Recreation Department has five full-time employees — director, assistant director, account clerk and two recreation coordinators — as well as 35 to 70 seasonal or part-time employees, most of whom lend a hand during summer programming. About 150 teen volunteers help annually in events and programs like day camp, the Easter Egg Hunt and Sporties for Shorties.

Budgets for programming, operations and maintenance, and capital improvements come from registration and user fees, along with the township’s general fund. In 2016-17, the department spent approximately $147,000 in operations and maintenance and $660,000 in programming, and $145,000 in operations and maintenance and $752,000 in programming in 2017-18. The operations and maintenance money does not include salaries and wages of employees from public services.

“You take dollars, you make ’em stretch and you do a lot with what we provide you,” Township Treasurer Paul Gieleghem said Feb. 20. “The fact that you had 1,200-1,300 responses is a sincere testament to that. You bring people in, they contribute and they take advantage of these programs.”

Pizzo said that in order to make his department further stretch its capital, there is an aggressive push toward more grants, partnerships, and putting money aside for future events and amenities — one that he often mentions is a splash pad.

“I would love to come to you with some of my great ideas, but I also do know where we stand fiscally, and responsibly we take the dollars where we can put them,” said Pizzo, who has been part of the department for nearly three decades. “But in the future, with what Sterling Heights is doing for the community, what surrounding communities are doing, we do need to have these amenities in this community, and I’ll stand behind that.

“We’re just all gonna have to work hard to find out where those funds are, where we get them, how we obtain them and how we use them in the future.”

He said the new generation of millennials doesn’t care as much about dollars or amenities, but rather a visceral experience. That includes having an animal farm where animals can be fed and petted, or having teens and adults get locked in escape rooms.

Looking at how to incorporate the unique water resources in the area is also on the agenda.

“I’ve seen in the last half of my career here, the township really is progressive with quality-of-life issues,” he said.

The master plan results can be found at clintontownship.com/recreation.html.

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