The city of Pontiac has approved a new five year Parks and Recreation Master Plan for its 36 public parks and recreation facilities.
The 208-page plan includes an inventory of the city’s 530-acres of recreation space and potential improvements. It also outlines recommendations from the city’s 2017 Complete Streets Pontiac Master Plan, which aims to make the city more walkable while reducing pedestrian traffic accidents.
Prior to its approval during a special meeting on Jan. 29, Pontiac City Council made a last minute amendment to the plan concerning a small public space located in the city’s downtown. Two parcels of land, situated between the former Buckner’s Dessert Cafe and Fillmore 13 Brewery on Saginaw Street, were removed from the final version of the document.
The area’s classification as either a park or entertainment space has been the subject of debate for over a year. In July 2019, the city was awarded a $56,000 KaBoom! Play Everywhere Challenge grant to develop the space as Hidden River Park. However, three months prior, the city council had also approved a zoning ordinance to allow 20 medical marijuana provisioning centers to open.
The fate of two parcels of land in downtown Pontiac is causing confusion among potential medical marijuana dispensary applicants.
Five of those locations will be able to apply for space downtown. Under the ordinance, medical marijuana facilities won’t be allowed to open within 500-feet of a park. Pontiac City Council went on to pass a resolution designating the area as an “entertainment space” in an attempt to dissolve the zoning conflict.
The new master plan also outlines budget appropriations for the following year. Spending for the city’s neighborhood projects, parks ground maintenance, senior centers and youth recreation are all up slightly for the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year.
Pontiac Youth Recreation Millage is expected to create over $1 million in revenue with $999,718 being appropriated this year for programs. Neighborhood Projects will see $182,053 in funding. A total of $243,256 has been allocated for the Bowens Senior Center and $189,272 for the Peterson Senior Center.
Hawthorne Park, the city’s largest park at 77-acres, is slated to receive a new site design under the new master plan. It will include improvements to the fishing pier, a new walking path and cross country trials and a fresh coat of paint for playground equipment. Restroom accessibility will also be addressed along with shoreline restoration.
The 55-acre Beaudette Park has several athletic improvements planned including basketball and tennis court resurfacing, the creation of access trails and walking paths, and upgraded ball fields and lighting. New benches and picnic tables will also be installed, among other improvements.
There’s significant plans laid out for Crystal Lake Park, located on the city’s southwest side on the northern edge of Crystal Lake. The entryway to the park is currently closed off to the public as many of its amenities were removed or demolished in recent years due to vandalism. The 42-acre space is classified for passive recreation, fishing and picnic areas. Potential upgrades will include the restoration of the park’s boat launch for canoes and kayaks, a new picnic shelter and park entry sign, benches, picnic tables and walking paths.
The plan can be found in its entirety at pontiac.mi.us.
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