Recreation Authority inaugural meeting a "landmark night"

Greater Reed City Area Recreation Authority aims to improve area recreational opportunities

REED CITY – When Dan Massey rode his bicycle on Rails to Trails from Reed City to Hersey, he passed through the City of Reed City, Richmond Township and the Village of Hersey without noticing.

In the same way the recreational trail seamlessly serves residents in the greater Reed City area, the Greater Reed City Area Recreation Authority aims to do the same thing.

Representatives from Reed City, the Village of Hersey and Lincoln and Richmond townships came together to form the GRCARA with the goal of increasing recreational opportunities for area residents and visitors alike.

Formed under the umbrella of the Reed City/Richmond Economic Development committee, the GRCARA held its first meeting on May 31.

From an idea of establishing new soccer fields in Hersey to a desire to better utilize the Hersey River for area recreation, the seven members of the committee as well as representatives from the four jurisdictions present in the audience shared enthusiasm for the new group.

“I’m very excited that our working together has resulted in this entity,” said David Bisbee, Reed City council member. “It’s great that we’re focusing on recreation which affects people in our community from two to 92 (years old).”

GRCARA was loosely based off the Crossroads Area Recreation Authority, an organization formed in 2002 that ceased to exist after a number of months of no action being taken.

Leaders have learned from mistakes made from the failed group in the past, said Reed City manager Ron Marek.

“This is a new organization in our community and I’m very excited to be a part of it,” Marek said. “This is an absolute landmark night tonight.”

Along with cultivating ideas for the betterment of recreation in the area, cooperation among entities represented in the GRCARA also will have financial benefits as well, said Dwight Gingrich, supervisor of Lincoln Township.

“Our government is looking for entities to work together,” Gingrich said. “If we can collaborate together, this will have an impact for a lot of things. It has impact for grants and it has impact for government.”

The members of the recreation authority are Martha Jones, Bette Jo Brown, Robbie Svegel, Pat Kailing, Ernie Clark, Marlene Fatum, Dan Massey, Karen Obermeijer and Karen Wright.

At its first meeting, the committee selected its officers; Dan Massey will serve as the committee chairperson, Ernie Clark was selected as vice chairperson, Martha Jones will take the role of secretary and Karen Wright will be treasurer.

Though the beginning of the organization brings no funds and the committee owns nothing, funds can be allocated from any of the four parent jurisdictions if approved, Marek said.

“Look at all the mileage of river you have,” Marek said. “This a clean slate. The opportunities are endless.”

The next meeting of the GRCARA will be at 7 p.m. on June 28 at the Reed City Hall.