REED CITY — There is a growing optimism among members of the Reed City/Richmond Economic Development Committee that formed some months back. As a result of that spirit of cooperation, a special public meeting will be held to discuss a collaborative effort to develop a new Parks and Recreation Plan for the greater Reed City Community.

Involved in this particular effort will be the City of Reed City, Village of Hersey, and the townships of Richmond, Hersey and Lincoln.

That meeting is set for Monday, August 29, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the fire hall in Reed City.

This will allow for discussion and new ideas to incorporate into a Parks and Recreation Plan for the greater Reed City Community. At a recent meeting of the Reed City/Richmond EDC, the emphasis was on that word “greater.”

The word “community” does not refer solely to Reed City. Instead, it involves the committee’s member townships and village as well. It is believed that by working together, all will benefit.

Reed City Manager Ron Marek said when representatives from Richmond Township and Reed City discussed what might be accomplished jointly some time ago, it was apparent it had to be something that could start building relationships for future collaboration. It has reached that point. The public meeting is meant to plant some seeds and grow a good plan, with results that will be beneficial to all.

The idea of a joint master recreation plan came up, with the feeling that what was good for one part of the committee could benefit the others as well, not only providing recreational opportunities for the area’s residents, but also bringing others into the area and benefiting the economy to boot.

At that time, the Crossroads Area Recreation Authority, with articles of implementation was drawn up. Discussion led to the thought that Hersey and Hersey Township were a vital part of the area. Both were invited. Both joined.

In a recent meeting, members offered their thoughts on what’s going on and why, emphasizing that this collaboration is a good thing for each entity and the entire area as a whole.

A $7,000 grant has been received allowing for the collaborative effort in developing a new Parks and Recreation Plan for the greater Reed City Community.

Committee members identified what they already have to offer as far as parks and current recreation possibilities, and what they consider to be needs and wishes.

Harry Burkholder, a community planner with the LIAA, recently addressed the group, and encouraged them to continue their current course, identifiying needs, concerns, and wishes as they move forward.

Ron Marek, city manager of Reed City, encouraged members present to offer some of their thinking on the efforts and progress being made along these lines.

Dwight Gingrich, representing Lincoln Township, noted that outlying areas have less money to work with, “and need assistance in this, and there’s so much we can benefit from together. Richmond Township’s representative indicated that recreation facilities are important, “and while there aren’t a lot of parks in the townships, our people use these parks (in Reed City and elsewhere) too, and feel good about developing a plan together.

Jeanette Hayes said, “We feel very fortunate to have the river and the trail, but our township has no parks. The Village (Hersey) will have a launch site for canoes, and they use the Muskegon River for so much.”

Dan Massey, representing Osceola County, noted that it’s important to know what is going on, and adding information and having input in the whole process.

“The city has a perspective from parks and recreation,” offered David Bisbee, “and all of our residents can enjoy what we have to offer but it shouldn’t be just our residents responsible for it.”

Another committee member, Phil Rathbun noted that the economic development “is a footstep if you will, into this area as a full-fledged ‘community,’ not just an individual one.”

As the discussion continued around the table, Marlene Fatum focused on the upgrades that could happen “and begin bringing more tourist dollars into the area.” Bisbee added that the interest in paving the trail from Reed City to Lake Michigan is important, and “getting small projects going can lead to truly becoming a crossroads.”

Beverly Proefrock indicated that her area is “happy we’re a part of it.” Pat Kailing noted that “many years ago we basically built that park (Westerburg Park),” indicating that basically the Jaycees accepted the challenge and met it for the Reed City area.”

Rathbun explained that, “Some of us have been here a long time and know the history, and we also know what we need to forget. There are no lines in the sand.” He stressed that it is important to meet together at the public meeting and look at what can be done with the whole area thought of as a “community”.

Kevin Rambadt addressed the importance of having the people from the surrounding area involved. “We have two trails and a river, and Hersey has two rivers and a trail.” He noted that, “This is a phenomenal opportunity for all of us.”

Discussion continued regarding the “walker recreation plan” which found people walking, sodding the fields and picking up rocks from the Reed City area, Hersey and surrounding area, even Big Rapids, “because of what we could do for the area not just for us.”

It was noted that tennis courts need to be fixed, but by working together as a whole group, “a community,” the entire area, everyone could benefit, “if we can tie in the trails, water, parks and everything.”

Others continued the discussion, offering ideas, making suggestions, but concentrating on the sense of community to make hopes of having more come to life and turn into reality for the entire area. The key is working together.

That opportunity to help it happen is available at the public meeting at the fire hall in Reed City, 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 29.