Plans for Pirate’s Park purchase moving ahead

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township is one step further in a lengthy process to decide whether to purchase Pirate’s Park and turn it into a community park.

The Flint Township Board of Trustees Monday voted unanimously to sign an agreement to move forward with completing a title search, environmental survey and two property appraisals. Economic Enhancement Director Tracey Tucker said the agreement has to be signed by Aug. 14 or the Township will lose the $1.5 million Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant.

The Township has until May 2021 to negotiate a purchase price. Up until that time, the township still can choose not to complete the purchase and not to accept the grant. However, if the township backs out, it will have to reimburse the state for the cost of the title search, environmental survey and appraisals. The Downtown Development Authority recommended those costs not exceed $25,000.

“Signing the draft agreement moves us forward in the process,” Tucker said. “It’s continuing the due diligence portion and getting all the information you need to make a decision. We don’t have to make a final decision on purchasing until 2021.”

The DNR grant would pay 75 percent of the purchase price, up to $1.5 million. Tucker said the owners have indicated they are willing to donate 10 percent of the price. All the buildings on the property are reuseable and have water and sewer. She also pointed out that once the township buys the property, it can never be used for anything other than a park.

During last week’s DDA meeting, Adam Young and David Richards of Wade Trim presented a three-phase plan for opening, rehabilitating and developing the park. An abbreviated version was presented to the board of trustees at its Monday meeting by landscape architect Scot Lautzenheiser.

The DNR requires that once the property is purchased, it be opened to the public within 90 days for limited use. For Phase 1, fencing and signage will be added to mark and secure areas that are off-limits to safeguard the public. Phase 2 includes existing amenity improvements, such as building renovations, mini golf and go-karts. Phase 3 would include highcost amenities and a part-time staff.

A conceptual drawing for the 44-acre site shows a large indoor four-season event space, threeseason indoor/outdoor event space, concessions, indoor playspace, treehouse/ safety tower/zipline launch, sledding hill, ice-skating rink, warming hut, dog park and dog beach, walking and biking trails, boardwalks, fishing pier, playscape, splashpad, mini golf, go-kart track, garden labyrinth and restrooms.

“We’re working on those dollar amounts,” Tucker said Monday. “We have to go through the due diligence to get those amounts. When we get the dollar amounts, that’s where the community improvement plan will come in. We don’t have to do everything at once and spend money all at once.”

Tucker said she has contacted Genesee County Parks and other municipalities to begin exploring ways to share costs on things such as maintenance and programming, so the township won’t bear the full brunt of those costs. The township also can apply for more MDNR grants next year to help rehabilitate and develop the park.

“If we have an art walk, we can apply for a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts,” Tucker said. “For the parking lot and trails, we can get a grant for green infrastructure. You can have stations that identify foliage and get education grants. We’re not just looking for park funds. We’re trying to be creative in looking at all funding streams.”