CHAPTER IX - PARKS AND RECREATION
E. BASIS FOR ACTION PLAN
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) has adopted a set of standards, based upon those developed by the National Parks and Recreation Association (NPRA), to determine the need for recreation facilities in each community. These standards establish: 1) the specific recreation facilities such as tennis courts or soccer fields, which should be available based upon the population of the community; and 2) the service areas, or number and type of parks that should be available to residents within a certain distance of their homes. Each of these standards were applied to the existing inventory of city-wide and school district recreation facilities to determine if deficiencies are present. The results of this analysis was incorporated, in part, into the Action Plan that follows.
1. Analysis of Existing Facilities and Service Areas
Recreation facilities serving City residents are compared to the MDNR standards in Tables IX18 and IX-19. These comparisons provide a general idea of deficiencies, but it must be understood that the MDNR standards are not intended to be followed to the letter. Needs of the population vary from one community to the next.
The analysis of existing recreation facilities is summarized in Table IX-20. Figure IX-3 provides general service area boundaries based on national standards for play lots (¼ mile radius) neighborhood parks (½ mile radius), and community parks (one mile radius). Most of the City, with the exception of the north central portion is under served by playlots The southwest and western portions of the City are under served by neighborhood parks. Many subdivisions, condominiums and apartment complexes (Parkview) may have private open space within the development. These private facilities may function as playlots and neighborhood parks by providing recreational facilities for their neighborhood residents. If we compare low-moderate areas of the City to recreation service areas, our analysis identifies recreational deficiencies in the Census Tracts 15.07 (western portion); 8.02; 9; and 6 (northwest). There is a need to provide playlots in most of the low to moderate income neighborhoods.
2. Public Input
A public forum meeting was held on September 10, 1996 and six neighborhood public meetings were held between September 24-26, 1996 and various school buildings and public facilities throughout the City. Community input and public comments, with regards to recreation and open space, are summarized in Appendix C.
3. Recreation Deficiencies
a. Land Area
Table IX-19 compares the City's park land acreage to recommended standards, based on a 1990 Census figure of 80,277 residents and W. E. Upjohn projected year 2020 population of 78,919 residents. Beyond the year 2000, the City population is forecast to hover below 80,000 persons. Thus, the deficiency analysis will be applicable through the year 2015. Recommended standards indicate that there is a deficiency of 10.6 acres of playlots, but a 38-acre surplus of neighborhood park acreage for the current and projected population.
The system is severely deficient in the amount of acreage allocated for community parks. According to accepted standards, the City should contain about 392 acres of community parks. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools, several tennis and volleyball courts, indoor and outdoor skating rinks, soccer fields, golf courses, archery range, ¼-mile running track, and pedestrian trails have been identified as community-wide needs. As the population redistributes, the demand for additional playlots and community park facilities may increase beyond the year 2000.
The City is also served by several colleges (WMU, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community College) and nearby regional parks and recreation facilities (See Table IX-11: Existing Regional Park and Recreation Facilities), which supplement existing park and recreation facilities of the City.
The raw numbers do not address the quality of existing parks and recreation facilities. Upon closer examination, deficiencies or limitations are apparent because of the location, accessibility, maintenance, level of development and individual size of existing park lands.
b. Limitation of Site Size
Most of the existing City Parks are deficient in terms of size based on accepted standards. These parks could be subject to overuse because of their limited size.
c. Reliance on School Sites
Many neighborhood park facilities in the City are located at elementary schools sites. Cooperation between the City and school district (including private and parochial school sites) provides for efficient use of the land. Nevertheless, there are limitations associated with having many of the neighborhood park facilities on school sites, because use of these facilities are first available to school athletic teams and scheduled programs and then open to the general public on a request basis. The City pays a small fee to use school gyms. School buildings do not provide storage space for City programs.
d. Reliance on Leased Facilities
The City currently leases former retail space at 1616 East Main Street for its Eastside Youth Center. The City is considering abandoning this site due to space limitations. The Douglas Community Center does not have adequate space for a teen drop-in center or after school programs.
e. Protection of Open Space
Many residents would like to see greenways and pedestrian (bikeways) corridors established throughout the city linking major open space with parks and cultural facilities. Protection of open space is important for the ecosystem and natural habitat. A major concern voiced by residents of the City at the public hearings was the protection of existing open space, especially on the City's westside. Much of this current open space (Asylum Lake, Baker Farm, and the Arboretum) is owned by WMU. An 183 acre open space parcel, owned by WMU and located off of Drake Road (north of the soccer complex), is scheduled for residential development.
f. Distribution of Park Sites
Park sites in Kalamazoo are not evenly distributed throughout the City. Thus, accessibility to park facilities is not equal for all residents, especially low to moderate families with children.
Some areas of the City are not served by certain park types such as playlots and neighborhood parks, particularly in the western and southern portions of the City (Figure IX-3). Continued redevelopment in the western portion of the City could eventually result in greater portions of the City being under served.
g. Barrier-Free Facilities
Many of the existing playgrounds located at park and school facilities are not accessible to children with disabilities and do not meet current standards for safe fall zones and resilient surfacing. Modern equipment with transfer points and ramps, resilient surfacing, and accessible pathways are required to ensure safe integrated play by all residents of the community.
h. Program Deficiencies
Program deficiencies identified by recreation staff and City residents include aquatic wheelchair access by persons with disabilities at Kik pool, a multipurpose community facility, boxing program, wrestling program, tennis and volleyball programs; baseball and soccer programs, youth entrepreneur programs, teen centers, performing arts facility, and after school programs.
The Department of Recreation, Leisure and Cultural Services would like to find a central location for a Community Center that offers programs and facilities for the entire family (children to seniors). A prospective partnership with Bronson Hospital may lead to the development of a Health and Welfare Center that could generate revenue to offset operation costs of recreation programs.
i. Gateway/Community Appearance
Standardized signs and landscape enhancements are needed at major entrances to the City. Small street signs and one-way streets make it difficult to find existing recreational and cultural facilities.
j. Riverfront Development
The recently completed Arcadia Creekwalk project and the new bikeway at the Edward J. Annen Jr. sports complex are exciting first steps to establishing pedestrian linkages along existing waterways. The City was awarded a $100,000 ISTEA Grant in 1996 for a community wide non-motorized trail study. The River Partner Trails Group plans to extend city trails to Maple Glen County Park and the Kalamazoo Nature Center and eventually to the KalHaven Trail. Other connections include the Battle Creek Linear Trail to the east and Portage Creek to the south.
Table IX-18 compares existing facilities to recommended standards, based on a projected population of 78,919 for the year 2000. The table reveals some deficiencies, some of which are being addressed by local colleges, private recreation providers and regional recreation resources. Tennis courts, volleyball courts and an archery range are examples of deficiencies the City can potentially address itself. Currently, the greatest need by the City is for a centrally located indoor multi-purpose Community Center.
Recreation Facilities Inventory
Leisure and Cultural Programs
LEISURE AND CULTURAL PROGRAMS
Concerts in the Park Series. These events are free to the public and are held in Bronson Park, weather permitting. Each concert begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends around 8:30 p.m. Pop and popcorn are sold at these events to help benefit the City's youth programs. Eight concerts were held in the 1995 series. This program is funded through corporate donations/sponsorships. Approximately 5,000 people were served by these concerts.
1995 Series Concerts
Group Name Date Band Fee
J. Chamberlin Quartet 6/8 $200
Ostego Jazz Ensemble 6/15 $180
Good Vibrations 6/29 $100
Moody Coyotes 7/6 $200
Kal. All Stars Blues Band 7/13 $200
Western Jazz Quartet 7/20 $350
Inner Urge 7/27 $300
Los Bandits 8/30 $300
1995 Sponsorship Revenue
Tyler Supply Company $325
Durametallic Corporation $325
Cain Realtors $325
AM Todd $325
Old Kent Bank $325
Georgia Pacific $325
Klein's Deli and Bagel Factory $250
Orrin B. Hayes $325
Arts Council Grant $1,213
Total Revenue $4,262
Teen Fest 95. The 6th annual Teen Fest was held on Wednesday, June 21, 1995, from 3:00 - 9:00 p.m. in Bronson Park. Teens and their families could enjoy a variety of educational activities and live entertainment with performances by Romans Razor, Love Punch, Eastside Youth Center Crew, Academy of Dance Arts, and others. WKFR/WKMI radio was the media sponsor and the Kalamazoo Gazette and Flashes Publishers also donated their services for the event.
Super Friday Trips. These one day, family oriented trips are reasonably priced to include as many people as possible and take place either on a Thursday or a Friday. There were five trips scheduled during the Summer of 1995, but two were canceled due to lack of participation.
With program fees of $19 to $24, the 1995 trip schedule included:
Program Fees $19 - $34
Walk Michigan 1995. Walk Michigan is a state-wide program that is sponsored by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and the Blue Care Network, that promotes good health and fitness through walking. In 1995, the Kickoff for Walk Michigan was held on May 18 on the Downtown Mall. Live music was provided by Wild Bill and Diplomats at this event. Weekly walks were held at several locations around the City. There was also a historic walk held in Downtown Kalamazoo on July 19 and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Walk held at Milham Park on June 10. The Timid Rabbit donated the use of four turtle costumes for the walk. Local sponsors for the program were Lee's Sports and Sports Wear, Kalamazoo Governmental Employees Federal Credit Union, and Bronson Health Care Group. Diane Berger was the grand prize winner of the trip to Mackinac Island for the Labor Day Bridge Walk with the governor.
Focus on Michigan Contest. This state-wide competition is open to all amateur photographers from school aged children to senior citizens. The local level of the competition ran from June 1, 1995, until November 6, 1995. Judging was held on November 9, 1995 and local winners were as follows:
Adult Division Barbara Yack (first place)
Sheryl Barnum (second place)
Barbara Yack (third place)
Senior Division Myrna Ludlow (first place)
Myrna Ludlow (second place)
Gordon Loscalzo (third place)
CPI Photo donated 8x10 enlargements for the winners and Otten Trophies and Awards donated ribbons to all participants. Local winners were sent on to the state competition.
Performing Arts in the Park 95. These events were free and held a various parks throughout the City. Concessions were available at the events, which were a collaborative effort with the Black Arts and Cultural Center.
Community Form Issues (September 10, 1996)
_ Need Gateway treatment along U.S. 131 @ U.S. 131 Business, M-43, I-94 Business, etc.
- Also, Kilgore from I-94
- M-43 from east
_ Need user-friendly bike paths/facilities
- Kal-Haven Trail
- Connect linear parks with trails
_ Need to preserve open spaces
- On west side of city
- Around Asylum Lake
- In the area bounded by M-43, South Kendall, W. Michigan and S. Drake
- Kleinstuck Marsh
_ Need for more park space in the city, especially on the west side.
_ The City should follow a process which includes (1) greenspace identification, (2) the identification of the need for park land in key locations, (3) the definition of linkages between parks, and (4) the use of zoning to place requirements on developers.
_ Ownership of greenspace should also be identified with a potential for negotiation. Consideration should also be given to use city, county and state holdings.
Mobility and Infrastructure Issues
_ Preserve Douglas historic building at Ransom Street (northeast side) as a gateway boulevard element.
_ Need gateway boulevard through the entire city.
_ Need more bikeways throughout the city.
_ Develop Portage Street as a gateway; this is the main link with the airport.
_ Make room for the roller blades and the skateboards; they have recreational needs too.
_ Link WMU to the CBD via bikeways and pedestrians paths.
_ Several comments were made relative to gateways, appearance of the City as one enters it (Oakland Drive is the best), and linkages via bikepaths and pedestrian paths to adjacent neighborhoods and to the main employment centers.
_ Develop regional trails.
_ Need a bikeway/pedway across the river.
_ Need to develop and utilize the riverfront in and near downtown.
_ Need a better Portage/Kalamazoo Gateway.
Neighborhood Meetings Held September 24, 25 & 26, 1996
Neighborhoods: Eastside, Northside, Burke Acres, Mt. Olivet
_ Entry or gateway to Northside need to be visually improved. Examples - Business Loop, M-43 and Douglas.
_ Restore historic village market at entrance to Northside.
_ Develop Kal-Haven Trail connection through Northside and Stuart neighborhood - Use railroad track which parallels Ravine Road, and join with tracks which parallel the Business Loop.
_ Consider using Brownfield sites (Willard Street) for recreation - Example: skating rink.
Neighborhoods: Edison, Milwood
_ Portage Rd. Gateway
_ Parks - pocket parks using vacant lots (Edison)
_ Between 94 and Cork Street
Green space is a dedicated park
_ Connection of Kal-Haven Linear Park
_ Edison - bike pathways
_ Bike paths
Neighborhoods: Oakland/Winchell, Westnedge Hill, Parkview Hills, Hill-n-Brook, Oakwood, South Westnedge, South Whites Lakes, Duke/ Parker, Homecrest, Ever-Rest Association.
_ Transportation - pedestrian movement limited -- zoning and regulation to address locational issues of commercial development -- public services (multiple use)
_ Fight City on sale of park land for industrial park zoning.
_ Habitat issues -- not only creatures -- environmental importance as well as open space importance.
_ Landlocked city should preserve all open space for future generations.
_ 3-acre site (wildlife) end of Leona.
_ Green space can make or break neighborhoods -- S. Burdick area
_ Runoff and drainage issues -- lakes (need lake water quality protection study).
_ Look outside -- Where is green space -- Need for closer neighborhood parks integrated throughout community by a long-range recreation/open space plan.
_ Vacant space on Kalamazoo Avenue -- accessible and open -- visible areas maintained.
_ Lakes within City should be protected. Concern over Woods Lake (study).
_ Bikeways -- mapping of established routes -- coordination or Intermodal transport.
_ Bike path (Celery Flats to Kal-Haven Trail) -- intergovernmental cooperation.
_ Brown space (Brownfield redevelopment) rather than prime open space.
Neighborhoods: Westwood, Arcadia, Knollwood
_ Is growth inevitable?
- If so, can we preserve open space?
_ Purchase green space -- BE PROACTIVE
_ LACK of city parks
_ Public parks and green space
- Will all open space be developed in 18 months?
_ Green space and walkway to connect University/college to downtown -- Arcadia Creek and River Trail.
_ How do you find Green space -- open space for parks?
- Land use inventory being done.
_ Financing to implement plan and preserve parks and open space.
_ Improve Knollwood Park for neighborhood
_ Pedestrian and bike friendly community
_ West Main bike path is wide, safe -- need more
_ Wintertime use of bike paths.
Neighborhoods: West Douglas, Stuart, West Main Hill
_ Northside trailway
_ Better balance in neighborhoods
- Housing, history, rehabilitate buildings
- Quality housing new / renovated
- Make areas attractive
_ Design Standards -- historic district design review.
_ River partners
- Preserve and beautify river
- Connector: river -- Kal-Haven Trail
- Enhance city -- entryways
- Plant traffic islands
_ Inventory green space, identify key areas, purchase
_ Kal-Haven Trail -- through Stuart to Rose Park, into Arcadia Commons (Kalamazoo Ave.)
_ Be careful when taking land off the tax rolls.
Neighborhoods: Vine, Western Michigan University, Downtown
_ Continue tree preservation and planting program