Merrill Trail, BMX course, sledding with shelter okayed
By BETH ALTENA
Plainfield Township’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved funding to the tune of $318,843.74 for their portion of the multiple-use sports complex currently under construction at Ten Mile Road. The vote took place at their regular meeting on Monday, July 1.
Rick Solle, Director of Public Services, said bidding took place June 14 for grading of Plainfield Township’s portion of the sports complex, specifically the addition to the Merrill Trail mountain bike trail to seven miles long, the BMX course, sledding hill and warming shelter. With a price tag of $318,843.72, the recommendation for a go-ahead from the township’s Parks and Recreation department was strong.
On hand was project designer Progressive AE in the person of Cheryl Scales, who strongly urged the board to approve the funding immediately. “This is a really unique recreational opportunity. You put them together and this truly makes us the center of the universe,” she said.
Scales said the best price for construction work, including infrastructure and water and sewer, would happen if
the board approved the work while construction crews were already on site working on other phases of the complex. She said that should the board fail to act now, the price tag would be considerably higher as crews would have to return at a later date and begin again.
A commissioner on the board of Van Buren County stood and spoke about the project, also heavily praising the groups of projects going in concurrently at the sports complex. “I am very excited. I drove all the way here to say please support this,” he stated.
Trustee Dale Pomeroy described the Parks and Recreation Department’s thoughts on the project. “Based on our five year plan, they unanimously support this. Get it done as soon as possible so we can get the grass in.”
Vic Matthews noted that the township already has $200,000 earmarked for this project, and at one time there was $700,000 budgeted, but over the last two decades that money was used for other projects.
Solle explained to the board that funds for the project are supposed to be specifically for that property adjacent to the Kent County Transfer Station, generated from what he called “tipping fees.”
Trustee Jon Rathbun said he had similar concerns that this was an unbudgeted item and had difficulty understanding how the former landfill property generated funds. “That fund was originally set up to fund this field and complex. Plainfield Township is in an unusual position in that over the years we made sure we had a healthy fund balance. The reason you do that is so that you can take advantage of opportunities like this.”
He also stated that he was sure everyone had seen the article in the Squire (June 27 ‘The best thing to happen to Rockford since they built the dam’) and this is the type of project they need to spend that money on for the benefit of township residents.
Pomeroy also noted that the development of a sledding hill is specifically in the township’s Five Year Master Plan because currently there are none in the township.
Matthews moved that the board vote to approve the funding, with $200,000 coming from the tipping fees fund and the balance out of the general funds. The motion passed unanimously.
Scales, thanking the board, said, “It is money that will be well spent. It is a good investment.”