Katie Beemer, an intern with the City of Wayland from Grand Valley State University, was given high praise for her work here over the past nine months, and she dominated the council meeting Monday night with a lengthy recreation plan presentation.
Beemer, who is leaving later this month, launched a survey of local citizens about what they would like to see in the way of recreation if grants can be secured. She told council members she received 106 responses from a total of 398 people.
The winner of the “wants derby” clearly was a walking and biking trail, which is the focus of serious attempts by Councilwoman Jennifer Antel to do just that. There has been a movement over the past several years to turn the old two-track Interurban dirt road into a paved non-motorized trail for walkers and bicyclers.
In second place on the survey was a dog park, followed by an indoor rec facility, a recreation playground and community events facility.
Beemer said respondents rated all but the skate park as in good condition and essentially acknowledged they didn’t know the North Park, a vacant lot across the street from the State Police post, could be used for recreation. Councilman Rick Mathis quipped that it’s “a blank canvas.”
When asked what they thought was the biggest asset for city recreation, the Splash Pad rated highest, and Beemer noted the part needed to get in back up and running has arrived, so later this month the attraction in City Park will be ready.
The Rabbit River Trail received high marks, along with the City Park. However, some asked that the Rabbit River Trail be paved for better locomotion of wheelchairs. Most of the route has crushed limestone.
There was much discussion among council members about working with the schools and perhaps establishing a rec authority. The latter possibility was rejected because it’s hard to establish and there is confusion about funding and responsibilities.
Antel said in days gone by the city contributed about $20,000 a year to the schools for recreation, but withdrew the stipend when it didn’t get an answer about where the money went.
Mathis, in opposing a rec authority, said, “We don’t want to duplicate what’s already being done out there.”
Antel added that, “When people had discussions about the nuts and bolts of an authority, eventually the enthusiasm waned.”
Beemer said there are only eight or nine rec authorities throughout Michigan.
It was decided that priorities, if grants are secured, should be a walking and biking trail, location for a dog park and having the council and school board members gather for a joint meeting on the subject.
All council members sang praises of Beemer’s work over the past nine months.
Councilman Abe Garcia told her, “You’ve been like a breath of fresh air.”
Councilman Joe Kramer said, “Whoever gets you (as a consultant) will be lucky. We wish we could keep you right here.”
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the council:
- Adopted resolutions to approve rezoning for 404 W. Superior (Wayland Dental Clinic) from restricted office to residential and 637 W. Sycamore to multi-family residential, Planned Unit Development.
- Held the first reading of a proposed ordinance amendment to rezone 915 to 921 133rd Avenue from R-A (agricultural) to R-1 (residential).
- Adopted a resolution to seek a state grant for roadway improvements, as proposed by City Engineer Mickey Bittner of Wightman & Associates.
COVER PHOTO: Katie Beemer