Archive for Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Purchase to give city new park

November 24, 2004

Lansing residents are about to see the amount of city-owned parkland nearly triple.

The city is poised to complete a purchase from area developer Dan Sedlak of 128 acres of land about a mile west of the city on 4-H Road, City Administrator Mike Smith said Monday. Smith said he would be reviewing the sale contract today. If the contract passes his muster, he said, the city and Sedlak should be able to complete the sale early next week.

"One hundred and twenty-eight acres," Smith said, "is going to fit our need for a long time to come."

Serving the city's needs, he said, could include a sports complex on the land being purchased.

Though Smith said he would not comment on exact financial terms until the sale was completed, he indicated the price was in the $600,000 range. In addition to the financial terms, Sedlak also is expected to agree to the annexation of another 248 acres near the proposed park.

The Lansing City Council gave the OK at its meeting Thursday to continue with efforts to purchase parkland.

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Lansing currently has five recognized parks: City Park, Willow Park, Lost 80 Park, Highland Playground and the new Kelly Grove Park. Together, they account for about 76 acres of land.

City officials say buying land for a park has been in their sights for some time.

Smith said he remembered talking about the need for more parkland during his days on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board before his appointment as city administrator in 2000.

"We've been setting aside money since then to purchase parkland," he said.

The layout of the land, with both flat areas and hilly terrain, would suit it for several needs, including a sports complex with baseball, soccer and football fields, an aquatic center, perhaps a city lake, Smith said.

"It's all up in the air right now," Smith said. "We're going to be able to develop it pretty much the way the public and the council wants to."

Smith said he expected the City Council to consider hiring a consultant to put together a master plan for the design of the park.

Funding for a master plan, Smith suggested, could come from continuation of the 1-cent county sales tax, which will come up for renewal by county voters next spring. Once the master plan is completed, he said, infrastructure needs would be taken care of before the park could open.

"You're going to have some costs just for that," Smith said. "Getting water and sewer out there are just two of the costs."

Smith estimated it could be two to three years before the park is ready for play.

"Some people, I'm sure, would like to see that quicker, but we've got some groundwork to do first," he said.

Whatever the final shape the park takes, Smith said he hoped the school district would participate.

"Now we share fields for football, baseball, track," he said. "We'd like to work with them on this. We've mentioned it to them, and they've reacted positively."

Shelly Gowdy, Lansing School Board president, welcomed the overture.

"We have been talking about more and better partnerships between the district and the city so that we can collaborate responsibly with the taxpayers' money, and one of the ways we can do that is by partnering in these types of projects," she said. "Really everything's in a discussion phase. Ideas are emerging; there's a lot of really exciting things going on and there's been a lot of work between the city and the school district, meeting with city planners and administrators. Lots of neat things are really starting to happen."

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