Twp. turns down chance to acquire Pirates Park

FLINT TWP. — The township board, following a recommendation from its parks and recreation advisory committee, has turned down an opportunity to acquire Pirates Park for free.

Free in this case means no up-front costs. But it was the hidden costs that persuaded the cash-strapped board not to pursue the deal.

The offer was contingent on getting a state grant that would cover two-thirds of the cost of the property purchase. Pirates Parks owners offered to cover the township’s one-third share of cost as a donation. The sales price would be based on the assessed value of the 39-acre property which is currently being offered for sale at $1.3 million.

Pirates Park representatives made their case at both a public hearing last week before the parks and recreation advisory committee and again on Monday night before the township board.

A timely decision was needed to meet the April deadline to apply for the grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF), an annual program funding local community development of public outdoor recreation areas or protection of natural resources.

Both the parks and rec and the township boards cast majority votes declining to apply for the grant, but expressed genuine interest in the appeal of the property.

Parks and recreation committee members opposing the grant application cited concerns about the ongoing costs of security, maintenance and staffing.

“Even though I think the project wold be great for Flint Township, I don’t don’t think it is something the township can take on and afford at this time,’’ said Jim McClung, parks and rec advisory board chairman.

Pirates Park representatives pointed out that the entertainment center has been in business about 25 years and has always generated sufficient revenue to cover its operating costs. It is open year-round and a popular site for birthday parties and other group outings.

It was also noted that there would be ample time for township representatives to meet with Pirates Parks representatives to discuss what to do with the park, before the grant decision is announced at the end of the year.

The township also would have the option of not accepting the grant, if awarded.

Township Trustee Frank Kasle was among those who said it would not look good to win a grant then turn it down, considering the expense and time involved.

This was the second time Pirates Park has tried to work out the grant offer with the township.

A grant application from the first try in 2008 still exists and would have required some updating to be ready by the grant application deadline. Pirates Park representatives even offered to pay for the application update.

Still no deal.

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