Big response to Park Department survey

PLYMOUTH — If response is a measure, the level of interest in the Plymouth Park Department is very high.
Superintendent Mike Hite is in the process of the department’s new five year plan and part of that plan involves a community survey about the park, its programs and suggestions for the department. Hite distributed the survey in city water bills, the department’s data base and online to all city of Plymouth taxpayers to get their input on the direction the park is heading.
“The last time we had an outside company do the plan for us and of course the Park Board had to pay for that,” said Hite. “This time we’re going to do it in house. Gene Skirvin’s business classes at the high school are going to compile all the data and put it in a spreadsheet form that will be easy to read.”
So far Hite has had over 500 responses to the survey.
“I couldn’t be happier about the response to the survey,” he said. “And overall city residents seem to be happy with the park.”
The survey and five year plan are a regular part of the department’s business but they are also part of the criteria for Department of Natural Resources approval, essential in gaining any grant money that could be available for park programs. The input helps Hite and his staff put together their plans for the coming five years. There will also be a series of public meetings to gather input as future planning moves forward.
“We got a lot of input on how we should prioritize things for the future,” said Hite. “There were suggestions about the downtown park area and all sorts of things.
“There was everything from replacing the restrooms, to more police patrols for safety, to an ice rink to a dog walking park, to pulling more weeds and planting more flowers.”
A priority item for Hite and the Park Department will continue to be the downtown area park near the river. The area presents a challenge in that federal money used to buy the houses along the river severely limit what kind of “structure” can be placed in the area.
“People suggested a splash pad, maybe a shelter or two and a lot of green space,” said Hite. “The Mayor (Mark Senter) has done a great job in putting together the Downtown Revitalization Committee and they’ve made that (park) a priority item.
“Obviously the next phase of the Greenway Trail will go through there and link the area to the South Gateway Project.”
Hite has a familiar problem with any plans.
“Of course we have to find the money to do any of that,” he said. “They’ve put a hold on some of the grant money we’ve gotten in the past (for the Greenways Trail). Some of the projects they gave money to were never completed so they’re trying to clean those up. Once those grants become available again we will certainly be submitting our paperwork.”
Obtain a copy of the survey at the city office, 120 N. Michigan St., and return on or before Dec. 31.