Natural Lansing: Parks, Foresty and Nature

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  • Actually, it looks like Lansing does have an individual parks millage in addition to the county parks millage; we have so many different ones I can't keep up with them. Anyway, it's only 1 mill; looks like we last approved its renewal in 2020 and was created in 2010. The Ingham County "Trails and Parks" millage is 0.5 mill. I'm curious, now. I want to compare this to other similar communities in the state to see if this is above or below average.

    Anyway, here is the 5-year masterplan (2020-2025).

    https://content.civicplus.com/api/assets/cf7054b9-2edc-499c-b724-6d4bd48b4d4d?cache=1800

    Beginning on page 6, it lists most of the focus on park improvements from 2015-2020. The goals for 2020-2025 begin on page 16. Some of these have already been accomplished since the plan was published.
  • That's a pretty solid list of improvements for that timeframe, the only things missing that I'd really like to see are the Washington Park ice rinks and some consideration for a few signature park redesigns/overhauls.

    A few items I found interesting from that list were the Francis Park rose garden redesign, renovating the Comstock Park community building, an outdoor stage in Durant Park and that they're still planning a synthetic ice rink at Riverfront Park. One head scratcher was the installation of a cricket field at Frances Park, I don't know why that's a priority when they've slacked so much on maintaining existing sports facilities at so many parks, I've never heard of anyone playing cricket around here. Other than that lots of good things to see: further upgrades to the Reutter fountain, money for the Moores Park pool, upgrades to at least a few basketball/tennis courts, new disc golf course, clearing debris from the rivers and plans for further land acquisition.

    Also, I never really looked closely at the trails plan (page 77), I didn't know there were active plans to extend trails out past Williamston, to connect to the Hartrick Trail in Okemos or connect to Lake Lansing Park and probably the biggest one for me is that they say they intend to extend the Rivertrail to the northwest into Tecumseh Park, connecting with Delta Twp's eventualy trail at Waverly (they seem to imply that no land acquisition will be necessary on page 108). The language also implies that the map shown is a 6 year plan established in 2020, if they can come anywhere near pulling off most of those proposed paths in that time frame I'd be thoroughly impressed.

    @MichMatters Thanks for finding and sharing that.
  • I remember the parks being maintained a lot better during my childhood. While things are mowed and kept up for the most part now, they seemed very manicured. Now, not so much. Frances park is always beautifully maintained which makes sense for what and where it is. I'd be curious what percentage of funding goes there versus other parks. Don't get me wrong, I love going there and love the plantings, I'm just curious on how funding is distributed considering the sorry state of other parks.

    One thing I will say, especially since it was specifically mentioned earlier, is that the city does and excellent job, in my opinion, maintaining tennis courts that are used by residents. The ones I go to are regularly patched and painted, like almost yearly. The nets are in okay enough shape. I'm honestly surprised they put up nets and take them down each winter. I'm by no means a serious tennis player, but I've been happy with how well they maintain the courts. Can't say that's true for basketball courts though as someone had also previously mentioned. The city does seem selective with what it maintains.

    The city has its positives and negatives with its parks, but I was always surprised when I worked down in the southern US doing ADA evaluations on public buildings and spaces. Their community centers and senior centers were new and had really nice, and diverse, features. Their parks were so active, well maintained and had a variety of activities for children and adults. It always had me asking what do they do different and how can we have this back home? These weren't in affluent areas either. Most were primarily minority and working class communities. I'm sure it all comes down to funding, but I wish we could better utilize and maintain our parks.

    Like someone else mentioned, Quentin Park is so desolate these days. I remember, growing up over there, how active it always used to be. Maybe it's just the change of times and kids with technology instead.
  • The city recently installed two baseball diamonds on the green in Quentin Park that was used for many different activities, they are nice fields, but I have not seen much ball being played there, and the cyclone fencing is not really attractive to look at all year long. I could be off on how much those fields get used as I don't get over there much these days. I believe that the fields were partly outside funded. The tennis and basketball courts there are in pretty good shape. I think gardens at Frances Park are also funded by a garden club and a memorial fund so perhaps it does not take a larger amount from city parks funds as it might. I guess the lack of kids in the parks may be because parents don't let their children go out to the park and play on their own anymore. I could start going to the park on my own at age six there were always neighbors looking out for the kids in the park, maybe it was bit young, I think you could be arrested if you let your six-year-old go to the park alone today!
  • It seems that maybe the parks really had gotten to their lowest point back during the recession before the new millage and that they've been improving slowly but surely since then. The skating rinks being shut down, pools in dire need of repairs, large portions of even parks like Washington allowed to go natural to reduce mowing costs, the Reutter fountain rarely working, trails going unpaved for far too long and boardwalks/bridges shut down for long periods before repairs... I remember those being things and most of those issues are now in some state of being addressed. Hopefully with this millage they can get caught up with all the long past due items then move on to doing more ambitious things over the coming years, and maybe with the population stabilizing and property values rising the general budget can bring back the higher levels of maintenance once seen.

    @Lymon89 I imagine gbdinlansing is right and that Frances Park is partially funded by some sort of non profit or endowment, I'm sure there's volunteers as well. Park-specific endowments and more volunteer work by residents is no doubt part of the solution to maintaining beautiful parks.

    @gbdinlansing Thankfully things seem to be beginning to shift back towards people allowing their kids to roam, I'm thankful that when I grew up I was allowed to go around by myself at a young age. I don't think it's healthy for kids to grow up constantly within sight of an authority figure.
  • As far as I know, Frances Park doesn't have any "Friends" group, and is simply kept up by the Parks & Rec. The city is just keen to keep up it's premiere park. It gets lots of weddings, family reunions, etc.
  • I often see city parks workers at Fances Park keeping the park quite nice, and I am sure they spend perhaps more than on less formal parks, I remember reading about both a garden club and an endowment by a neighbor lady who passed away of some good amount. It is interesting that the city seems to hire out a lot of things like mowing in other parks. It would be a good idea I think to use some of the new funds to hire more people to work in the parks and give people a living wage to do it. Many landscaping companies hire contract workers providing low wages and no benefits, or even unemployment as far as I know.
  • A story on some upcoming improvements to Ingham County parks: https://www.fox47news.com/neighborhoods/mason-leslie/ingham-county-has-15m-parks-improvement-plan-in-the-works?fbclid=IwAR01mnK5M55C_bLjzB7aVghOh_WbCyZpmwNlfKVrbqXg-Np5kkHMFMBVGNQ

    The news story calls this a master plan but it's more of an agenda: https://cms3files.revize.com/inghamparks/Documents/ParkCommission/2022/FEB-14-COMM-CMPLT-PKT.pdf

    One of the more interesting items are potential rental cabins at Burchfield Park, not many details on those as they are in early planning though. Lots of unsurprising stuff listed there: new/replaced and sometimes rearranged boardwalks and docks/piers, replacing playground equipment and splash pads, lots of that sort of stuff.

    One other thing I wasn't aware of until reading through this is that the MSU to Lake Lansing connector is already underway and will continue with at least phase two this year. I noticed the new crossing on Hagadorn Rd but I'm not sure if they've built the bridge across the Red Cedar and connected the path up the Grand River RR bridge yet. Has anyone here seen if that has been done? With all this the contiguous trail mileage in the county is about to begin to rack up, they just need to get the Northern Tier trail connected somehow.
  • I took a westside trip over to Frances Park and found that the River-Trail extension has been completed. I think it looks good while understanding they did take out a lot of trees to build it. There is a nice wide trail starting at Cambridge Road down to the park bounded by a black metal fencing. I wish they might have paved the rest of Moorse River Drive and took out the speed bumps but since both the Mayor and the Gov drive down that street maybe that will happen one day soon.
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