MCBRIDE — Visitors to the Robert Lee Davis Memorial Park in McBride are in for a change of scenery.
The village of McBride received a letter last December that it was among those recommended to receive a $132,300 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) development grant.
The grant will largely fund the projected $180,000 cost of future park improvements — a new restroom facility, playground equipment, handicapped-accessible parking, nature trail with trailhead shelter and signage guides from the Fred Meijer Heartland Trail to the park.
A specific process must be followed before grant funds are disbursed.
The village currently is waiting for the Legislature to approve the appropriation of funds based on MNRTF Board’s recommendations.
“We can’t do anything until the appropriation of funds is passed in the Legislature,” said McBrides Park Improvement Committee (MPIC) member Carolyn Kane. “Then, once the project agreement is signed, we can follow through with the other steps.”
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Grants Management typically distributes project agreements to grantees by August, but this date depends on Legislature approval, according to DNR grant coordinator Shamika Askew-Storay. Work may begin after the project agreement has been executed.
MPIC is busy soliciting additional project funding and discussing specifics on the site plan prepared by Williams and Works, an engineering firm in Grand Rapids.
The new restroom facility is the highest priority among the proposed improvements, according to Kane. The current park restroom is an outhouse-type structure. The proposed facility is a 20-by-24-foot block structure with wooden trusses and a metal roof, which would be divided into separate units for men and women. The committee discussed positioning the new restroom near an existing well. A local contractor has donated the cost involved in digging a new drain field.
The purchase of new playground equipment is long overdue, according to McBride Village Councilman Tom Mascho. Much of the existing playground equipment is from the old McBride School, which stood on the northeast corner of the current park property from 1922 to 1981 and was torn down soon after the school closed.
“This stuff was here when I was in elementary school around 45 years ago,” said Mascho of the playground equipment. “Some will stay if there’s nothing wrong with it.”
The village of McBride must provide at least 26 percent ($46,800) of the total project cost in the form of cash and donated labor and materials, according to Kane.
Donations totaling $32,000 — $11,750 in cash, $2,050 in material and $10,200 in labor — have been secured. McBride will use general fund monies to help fund the project if necessary.
“We are well on our way to raising the matching funds, but need to continue to seek some additional funding,” Kane said.