Belding community to generate new recreation plan

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 2:59 pm on Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From left, Ernie Thomas with the Department of Public Works, Belding Police Chief Dale Nelson, Scott McNeal of the Recreation Advisory Board and Belding resident Dave Paker work together to come up with ideas for the new community recreation plan for the city.

BELDING — Community members sat side by side with the Belding Recreation Advisory Board on Thursday night brainstorming ideas for the new Community Recreation Plan for the city.
Divided into five groups, about 25 people gathered for the Belding Visioning Session at the Belrockton in downtown Belding in order to come up with new ways to help improve recreational areas throughout the city.
“This was exactly what we were looking for,” City Manager Randy DeBruine said. “These ideas are very good ideas, they’re not off the wall. We’re very pleased with the turnout and response we received tonight.”
Ranging from items as small as keeping volleyball nets indoors during the winter to larger more expansive items like the addition of a town skate park, people bounced around ideas throughout the evening creating lists totaling more than 100 ideas.
Those lists will now be narrowed down to a top 20 to 25 ideas that will be featured in the official community recreation plan for the city.
Pam Blough, a landscape architect consulted by the city to run the meeting, was thrilled with the turnout and amount of ideas generated during the hour and 30 minute meeting.
“It’s really hard when you report to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that you had broad support when only two people show up,” Blough said. “That wasn’t the case tonight. The community here in Belding truly cares about the state of their city parks.”
Once the lists were complete, the five giant sheets of paper that had been passed from group to group were posted on the wall for all to see.
From there, everyone was given stickers to place next to their favorite ideas, with one star-shaped sticker to place next to the idea they thought was most important to them.
“This is the third time we’ve done this, and I’ve really found it to be the most effective method,” Blough said. “You have an opportunity to make sure the public’s ideas are heard and used. The pathway system that goes from Water Street Park towards Central Park is a perfect example of an idea that became a reality from one of these meetings in the past.”
Blough said they’ll look at every idea and prioritize them into low, medium and high priority groups based on the amount of stickers each idea received.
“We then take the high priority ideas and select the top 20 to 25 from there,” she said.
Belding resident Dave Parker, who runs the Belding Area Soccer Club, was excited to take part in the meeting for the first time.
“To be able to help out the park board to establish new ideas for the whole community to use, young and old, it’s been fun,” he said.
Blough said the official recreational plan will be posted for a 30 day comment period in the near future.
After that, the plan will be submitted to the DNR for review in order to apply for DNR trust fund grants available to cities throughout the state.

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