The City Council voted 5-0 last week to pursue three grants — two for Mulligan’s Hollow and one for Sluka Field.
Mulligan’s Hollow would benefit from a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund of up to $300,000, with a match of $216,500 from the city’s General Fund. A grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund of $258,300 with an equal match from the city will also help bring new basketball courts and parking lot improvements to the recreational area.
Basketball courts are planned along Sherman Avenue, while parking will be improved near the Imagination Station. At a previous meeting, the City Council requested that grass and trees be placed between the north parking lot and the playground.
City Manager Pat McGinnis said the city will leverage one of the two grants for Mulligan’s Hollow, and is applying for both to improve the odds of receiving funding.
Funds are also targeted to put in a new playground and butterfly garden at Sluka Field. A grant from the state’s Recreation Passport Program would bring $150,000 — with a city General Fund match of $75,000 — for the projects.
Playground equipment will be selected during the engineering phase of the project, City Public Works Director Derek Gajdos said. It will replace existing equipment at the playground location, he said.
Gajdos said grant recipients should be selected by the end of the year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“After receiving the grant, we hope we could get our plans together to engineer/prepare documents and bid in the first quarter of 2020, with a construction start in the spring of 2020,” he said. “If not, we would most likely construct in the fall of 2020.”
Gajdos brought plans to the City Council in February for $1.5 million in improvements to the two parks, and the council asked for the project scope to be scaled back. The downsized plans especially impact Sluka Field, where construction of a new bathroom and concession facility will begin this spring.
While city staff are interested in new lighting, fencing, stands and other amenities at Sluka Field, a playground was considered the best fit for the potential grant funding.
A new playground at Sluka Field and numerous changes at Mulligan’s Hollow are included in the city parks board’s 2019-23 Master Plan.