Kentwood ballot to include parks millage

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Courtesy city of Kentwood

Kentwood in August will ask residents to consider a proposal geared toward city parks, trails and recreational improvements.

The Aug. 2 ballot initative dedicates one mill that, if approved, will support the city’s parks, trails, and recreational facilities and programming.

Millage funds would improve all trails and parks and would expand and enhance programming through increased capacity in space and staffing. Funds also would be used to fund a remodel of the area surrounding Kentwood City Hall into a community recreation center and park space.

“Since celebrating Kentwood’s 50th anniversary in 2017, we’ve dedicated significant time and effort (to) planning for the next 50 years of community growth through collaboration with our residents and other partners,” said Mayor Stephen Kepley. “Available parks and recreation funding has not kept pace with increased residential demand, delaying repairs for the community today and significantly limiting future improvements. If approved, this millage would provide a permanent sustainable funding source to improve, operate and maintain parks, trails, and other amenities and services for generations to come.”

The one-mill proposed millage was recommended by parks advisory committees that included residents and other stakeholders. Planning also included community engagement and a review of Kentwood’s current parks, trails and programming, its projected growth and community needs.

Advisory committees also recommended the city contribute additional funds up to $22 million from other public and private sources to attain the needed improvements. The plan for the millage ballot proposal, which was unanimously approved, was presented to the city commission on Dec. 7 for the Aug. 2 election.

“Our extensive community engagement and planning process has shown our community needs have grown beyond available funding,” said Val Romeo, director, Kentwood Parks and Recreation. “This has been reaffirmed by increased use of our parks, trails and recreational offerings throughout the past two years.”

The proposed millage would support Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and other improvements and developments, including:

  • Bowen Station Park: Restroom, playground equipment, signage, landscaping and other amenities
  • Burgis Park: Trail and sidewalk improvements and a new drinking fountain
  • City campus: Splash pad, playground, plaza, shelters, stage, event lawn, parking, restrooms and other amenities
  • Community recreation center: Approximately 50,000 square feet of year-round, indoor and all-ages programming and recreation space on the city campus
  • Covenant Park phase one: Trails, sports fields, event lawn, lighting and infrastructure to support future phases
  • East Paris Nature Park: Trail improvements, signage and other amenities
  • Home Acres Park: Skate park improvements, shade shelters, lighting, signage, landscaping and other amenities
  • Jaycee Park: New restroom/program building, added parking, disc golf improvements and other amenities
  • Kellogg Woods Park: Restrooms, softball/baseball field improvements, new sports fields, lighting and landscaping
  • Northeast Park: Restrooms, playground, splash pad, landscaping and other amenities
  • Old Farm Park: Parking improvements, playground, shelter and other amenities
  • Paris Park: Trail improvements and signage
  • Pinewood Park: Splash pad improvements, pickleball courts, a new restroom, shade shelters, landscaping and other amenities
  • Rondo Street Station Park: Playground, bicycle rack and repair center, signage, landscaping and other amenities
  • Stanaback Park: Playground, parking improvements, signage, pickleball courts, landscaping and other amenities
  • Stauffer Station Park: Kiosk, bicycle rack and repair center, signage, lighting, landscaping and other amenities
  • Summerwood Park: Playground and landscaping
  • Trails: Repairs, replacement and new connections
  • Veterans Memorial Park: Shelter, added parking and other amenities

According to Romeo, the Parks and Recreation department exhausted current general funds, including a parks millage that expired in 2013.

“We have been able to make improvements only through grant opportunities, which are becoming more and more difficult to acquire. New funding is critical to support our growing community needs,” Romeo said.

If passed, the millage would be levied starting July 1, 2023, with the following tentative timeline:

  • All parks would receive improvements to address the most immediate needs within the first five years, with all remaining improvements completed within 10 years.
  • Trail improvements and construction planning would be prioritized in the first year, followed by ongoing trail repairs and expansion to enhance the trails for all users.
  • Construction of city campus park amenities and community recreation center would begin in the second year.

More information regarding the millage proposal is here.

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