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MINUTES: Town Board, Park Commission Meeting, May 9, 2016 – Bowers Harbor Park Expansion

pickleball, Bowers Harbor, Bowers Harbor Park
Bowers Harbor Park | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Peninsula Township
Special Joint Meeting of Town Board and Park Commission
May 9, 2016

Meeting called to order at 5:00 P.M.

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Roll Call:
Town Board: Avery; Byron; Hoffman; Correia-Chair; Weatherholt; Witkop; Rosi
Park Commission: Andrus; Griffiths; Sanders; Shipman; Skurski; Griffiths (arrives at 5:02 p.m.)
Also present is Claire Schoolmaster, Planning and Zoning Coordinator, and Mary Ann Abbott, Recording Secretary
Absent: None

Approve Agenda
Town Board: MOTION: Byron/Avery to approve agenda. PASSED UNAN
Park Commission: MOTION: Shipman/Skurski to approve agenda. PASSED UNAN

Brief Citizens Comments – for items not on Agenda

Conflict of Interest
Town Board: None
Park Commission: None


1. Bowers Harbor Park Expansion

(1) Review the concept plan dated – June 2013

Saunders I was not here at the time this concept plan was developed. Would like to have a review of these events with input from some people in the audience. Saunders would also like to know where we are on the grant process, including signage, connecting trails and any other requirements. Correia we just became owners and these plans were conceptual. Shipman The plan may be a place to start discussion. Trouble areas are already mapped such as wet areas. A lot of ideas were given. Our sketch is different as we now have the ballpark. There is a connecting trail that would lead into the undeveloped area. We would like to see this as a top-notch park top to bottom. Consensus was that at the time there was concern that it be an active park for families and children, although some members felt it should be more passive. Rosi recalls that there are some monitor wells in place, and she wants to be sure that we are comfortable that there is not concern with children playing in certain areas. Avery There was some subsurface arsenic. Schoolmaster That information is in Phase One and you need to decide what fits in the project at this time. Will look into these arsenic levels. Griffiths remember concerns about subsurface runoff. Saunders There are some people in the audience that can speak to this plan, and she invited them to comment.

David Foote, Regional Land Conservancy had a chance to review Phase 1, Phase 2 and the State of Michigan due care plan. They found arsenic but below non residential levels. He suggested under due care plan that any activities that do not require moving the soil could be used. If you need to level and grade, you would need to put in a project consulting plan.

Rob Manigold 2876 Old Mission Road Test wells were from the first developer – several test wells put down and to his knowledge it came out okay. The original proposal to the Trust fund was denied. There was a second proposal. The Township put in $100,000 and area residents put in about $100,000. The drawing stems from years of people coming forward to say what they would like to see. If you have not walked that property, it is wet. The idea was to keep all of the kids’ or noisy stuff where it is now so it would not infringe on the neighbors in the back. There was also a desire by the Bay Shore Marathon to have a place where they could all meet.

Mary Swift, 13956 Peninsula Drive There is a long history with this property. It was tiled at one time, but they have broken down and it is wetlands. More prominent now. Water flows north towards Bowers Harbor. There is a desire to keep this passive due to the contamination. Drawing was a concept plan to show keeping activity in the Bowers Harbor Park and passive in the contaminated part.

Rob Manigold The old dump has been encapsulated with the DNR approval and the plume had been checked. Any cherry farm is going to show lead arsenic and other compounds. You will have residual chemicals and you usually will encapsulate or keep a grass barrier. It made sense to put in Township hands and expand the park system.

Witkop I recall that the Town Board was not involved in the creation of this map. We have very passive parks in this Township, and I would like to see an active park where families can come and spend the day. We felt at the time that this was a map developed so that the grant could be obtained, and once that happened, we could make the changes as we wanted.

Avery There really is not a family park in this area. Everywhere else is quiet and workable what everyone wants in their back yard, but we need to have a place for people. Witkop There is nothing welcoming in this park for young families. Playground equipment needs to be replaced. Saunders sees the need for new equipment, but does not see need for a more active park. Griffiths we need a nice playground with nice safe equipment. We need places where toddlers can play and inviting for everyone. We need to put the money behind us. Andrus we do want to move forward. Need to put together a committee, get the public involved and come up with a concept.

(2) Discuss Planning & Development of BHP Expansion

(a) Consider Transfer of Planning of BHP Expansion to Park Commission

Discussion on how the Board sees the committee operating, including budget and communication with the Town Board. Town Board Committee member will report to Town Board so they stay involved. Public Hearing will be necessary. Financial Campaign and Time Line for project was suggested.

MOTION: Byron/Witkop recommends transfer of the planning responsibility of the Bowers Harbor Park Expansion to the Park Commission with a committee to include Town Board, commissioners, residents, staff and the Conservancy, and for the Park Board to come back to us at the June board meeting with a plan laid out on how they are going to attack this, a time frame and how much money they think they are going to need.

Roll Call Vote: Avery-Yes; Byron-Yes; Hoffman-Yes; Correia- Yes; Weatherholt-Yes; Witkop-Yes; Rosi-Yes PASSED UNAN

Griffiths suggested that the maps and plans with areas of concern be digitally placed on the website and made available for meetings. Schoolmaster will get additional materials and will work with the conservancy to get that information

(3) Form Committee to Include Township Board/Park Commissioners/Residents

Saunders asked for volunteers for the proposed committee. The following people willing to serve are: Shipman-Parks; Witkop/Avery will share from the Town Board; David Foote Conservancy; Michelle Reardon or Claire Schoolmaster from staff.

Witkop would like to have citizens solicited that may have the background or resources. John Snow and Mary Swift for the Citizen input. Saunders will work with Clerk to get notice to citizens about volunteering and will look for one more resident to serve. Shipman to Chair.

Citizen Comments

Monnie Peters, 1425 Neahtawanta Road This meeting shows the importance of having history. It is important to go back in order to have people brought up to date on why decisions were made.

Rob Manigold, 2876 Old Mission Both boards should pat each other on the back for getting that ball field. But that playground equipment is old and we never put any money into it.

Board Comments

Weatherholt Sometimes you need some money to get a concept together. If you find that is the case then put together a plan for what you need.

Correia There are people that have much more knowledge, and it was good to have them speak tonight.

Skurski I think you will find out what it will take to come up with a plan, but you will not be able to get much further than that.

Saunders We put some funds in our budget to survey the public on this project.

MOTION: Avery/Witkop to adjourn at 6:07 P.M. PASSED UNAN

Respectfully submitted by Mary Ann Abbott, Recording Secretary

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  1. Once again our Township meeting minutes do not accurately or adequately reflect what actually was said and therefore the premise stated in these minutes that the consensus “at the time” was for the expansion to be an active park could not be further from the truth. The professionally designed concept drawing that was created (at the expense of private funding donated through the the Conservancy) and submitted with the application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (which helped drive their approval of a $600,000 grant to acquire the property) clearly shows the expanded area designed for passive use and the existing park area to be upgraded with ball fields, playgrounds, soccer fields,more ins courts, etc., for active uses. All this came about after months of study by a team that included the Township (including planner Michelle Reardon and former Supervisor Rob Manigold), the Park Commission representatives, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, neighbors, environmental engineers, and outdoor organizations interested in using the new acreage to host their athletic events. The residual agricultural chemicals in the soils (and required, costly remediation if land excavations were to occur), protection of the extensive Federally regulated wetlands, protecting the rights of adjacent land owners, and maintaining the balance of passive and active uses in the overall park concept drove the well thought out design. Reinventing the wheel will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars to learn the same facts that the prior studies already uncovered. We have officials who seem to be averse to accepting any conclusions they personally did not participate in. Hopefully, the committee that has been formed by the Park Commission to study this project won’t waste time and money trying to redo facts already in evidence.

    • See, this is why I need to get to the meetings and write up recaps by the next day, then publish the minutes when they’re available. Thanks for the extra info!

      The other thing is, even though the DNR might *say that area below the dump is ok … anyone who was around when the dump was really a dump might have some other thoughts on that. I went to the dump with my dad in the 1960s, and let’s just say there’s some interesting chemicals and other farm stuff in that soil – not just the dump area, but all the way to West Bay.


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