Township seeks grant to buy Pirates Park



The exterior of Pirates Park on Miller Road in Flint Township. Photo by Gary Gould

The exterior of Pirates Park on Miller Road in Flint Township. Photo by Gary Gould

FLINT TWP. — Flint Township hopes to breathe new life into an abandoned amusement park with the help of a $1.5 million state grant.

Pirate’s Park, 4175 Miller Road, once was the place to be on warm, sunny days with its water park, paddle boats, batting cages and putt-putt golf. But the 48-acre entertainment venue partially closed about 10 years ago and closed completely about five years ago, according to Flint Township Economic Enhancement Director Tracey Tucker. The township has no large community parks and has been looking at Pirate’s Park for some time.

“It was in our master plan for recreation, and we knew this would be needing a grant,” Tucker said. “The opportunity came up. We thought something needs to be done with it, and they haven’t been able to sell it. It’s centrally located in our township, centrally located in the county. It’s a great venue, and a good basis that we can start a park with.”

Tucker said all the buildings on the property are useable, and most of the infrastructure is intact. The park is owned by John McCullough and the estates of Hod Morton and Bobby Katz. Tucker declined to say how much the owners are asking for the property. The township applied for a $1.5 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, which is part of House Bill 4244 passed by the Legislature and awaiting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature. Tucker said the township would need to supply matching funds in order to purchase the property.

Tucker said once Whitmer signs the bill, the township will receive a letter of acceptance and will have 90 days to decide whether to take the grant. If the board of trustees accepts the grant, the township then will have to go through a process that includes environmental studies and title searches.

In the meantime, the township is seeking the public’s input with an online survey on the township’s website. The survey asks whether individuals support the creation of a township community park on the Pirate’s Park property. The survey went live May 7 and, after only two days, had nearly 900 responses.

“All we’re wanting to know is what are our options,” Tucker said. “We want to know if they want this to be a fullblown recreation area. Do they want people setting up events, or are they just looking for something really simplistic like hiking trails. But we also have to look at what it’s going to cost. Will we be able to maintain it with the funds we have now, or can we have rentals that will be enough to help pay for the upkeep?”

The survey notes that the property has a go-kart track, batting cage, puttputt golf and an indoor event space and asks how important it is to keep those items and update them as part of a future park. The survey asks individuals to rate a list of several amenities as very important, somewhat important, not important or no preference. The items include a sledding hill, skating rink, dog park, amphitheater, walking paths, paddle boats, fishing pier/dock, splash pad, playground, exercise stations, outdoor event space (farmers market, concerts in the park, etc.), indoor event space, green infrastructure (rain gardens, permeable pavement), bathrooms, food and beverage options, picnic areas, artwork, interpretive/ educational signage, nature paths, disc golf, skate park, and a trail/sidewalk connection to adjacent township amenities. The survey also asks how often people would use a park and whether they support grants and/or tax dollars to improve and maintain the park.

Tucker said the township has used online surveys before but never on this scale. She said the survey will remain available to the public for about two more weeks. To fill out the survey, visit www.flinttownship.org and scroll down to Park Study Survey on the home page.

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