Calhoun County Voters are being asked to consider a new millage for parks across the county.  Many have already voted by mail, but the polls will be open this Tuesday, August 4th.

If approved, the County’s main parks would be improved and maintained, but every city and township would also get funds for other parks and projects.

A little over a year ago, the County sent out a survey to get a feel for what the attitude was toward parks and the possibility of a millage to fund and improve them.

Calhoun County Parks Director Doug Farrell said they had well over 600 responses.  He says more than 70% of the responders either supported or strongly supported the measure.

Farrell says they had to hire someone earlier than normal this year, due to a huge uptick in parks use this summer.

Vice-Chair of the Calhoun County Parks Commission Annette Chapman, a former Calhoun County Parks Director, says our parks just might more important to the community than ever.  “Everybody knows, with this pandemic, being outside and having the ability to go to the parks has been very critical because that’s one thing you can do,”   Chapman says a lot of other counties already have designated funds in place for parks.

Calhoun County has four main county-operated parks.  Historic Bridge Park (formerly County Park), the Ott Biological Preserve, Kimball Pines, and Riverfront Park.  All are in Emmett Township.  Established Michigan trail ways are intertwined with our county parks.

How much will it cost you to approve the Calhoun County Parks Millage?   For many, it’ll cost about a dollar a month, or a nickel a day.  That’s roughly the cost for someone with a home assessed at $150,000.  For a $200,000 home, it would cost $20 per year.

County Parks Millage Sign at Kimball Pines-TSM Photo
County Parks Millage Sign at Kimball Pines-TSM Photo

The five-year millage would raise about $730,000 per year.   “Fifty percent would go to the four-county parks, and then fifty percent would go to various other townships and municipalities depending on population size,” said Farrell.  “Each municipality will have to decide what they’ll do with the funding.”

One of the first things that could be done if the millage passes, is the development of Kimball Pines, off East Michigan Avenue.   Farrell says a storm in 2011 devastate trees. He says the park needs a new entrance.  Right now it is accessed through a shared driveway with the Senior Medical Facility and Marion E. Burch Center.  They would also make the bathrooms ADA compliant and restore a lot of the natural habitat. He says they would also like to expand the disc golf course to 18 holes.   Later, trails, camping, and playgrounds could be added.  Farrell says a new pavilion is going in this year, made possible by a grant from the Visitor’s Bureau.

Another upside to the millage is that many grants, from the DNR and elsewhere, require matching amounts.  That means money could be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.

Click here to see the allocations by population for each county municipality.

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