Group of residents plan splash pad in Reed City

“We aren’t going anywhere,' Crossroads Recreation Connection member Chris Mund says

REED CITY — The Crossroads Recreation Connection, a group of residents tasked with bring a splash pad to Reed City, presented their plans to the city council during a special meeting last week.

The group requested the support of city council in submitting an application for a Michigan Economic Development Corporation Community Development Block Grant for $1 million to fund the project.

During the meeting, the city council agreed to a match of city funds of $100,000 to help fund the project, which was necessary to apply for the MEDC Community Development Block grant.

The plans, drawn up by Fleis and VandenBrink engineering, calls for the renovation of an empty lot along Chestnut Avenue next to Pompeii’s Pizza, and creation of a pocket park, which will include a splash pad, benches, a warming station, a movie screen, a stage and other amenities at an estimated cost of $1.15 million.

“Our group started out with plans to just put in a splash pad, but Rick Stout with Fleis and VendeBrink met with us and took our idea and just went with,” CRC member Chris Mund said. “This is an all-encompassing, four seasons type of thing.”

Stout, who has been working with the MEDC grant program for many years, suggested they incorporate the splash pad and add other amenities to make it all season, which is more appealing to the grant committee, she added.

“Because it is incorporating all four seasons, and we are a low economic community, he is really optimistic about our chances,” she said. “The grant deadline was April 15, and we should know something by July.”

City manager Rich Saladin said the project will bring much needed economic growth and vitality to the downtown area and will help beautify that piece of property.

“It is on the main drive, so everybody will see it driving through the area,” he said in a previous interview. “It will be a multi-seasonal location incorporating the ice rink in the winter and the fireplace. It will include new parking and other things that make it a real community center.”

Mund added that they are looking at having many different events at the newly established park.

“There is a stage where we can have concerts or performances, there is a screen to show movies, there will be benches for people to sit,” she said. “Students can have talent contests on the stage, they can have a picnic. It is a free field trip. Because we have the ice rink, there will be a fire pit and the empty building will be converted into restrooms and a space to have birthday parties.”

“If we get the $1 million, we will need to fundraise $150,000,” Mund said. “Our goal and our hope is that we will fundraise enough so that the city doesn’t have to put in anything.”

The group raised $4,700 in donations to hire Fleis and VandenBrink engineering to draw up the necessary design plans for the application submittal.

Mund said they plan to continue to fundraise throughout the planning and construction phases of the project and will contribute any monies they are able to get to the project.

Fundraising events that are potentially in the works include running the kid’s carnival during the Great American Crossroads Celebration, from which one-half of the proceeds will be returned to them.

“Someone reached out to us about doing the rodeo, as well, and we are talking about and end of the school year bike rodeo and ice cream social,” Mund said.

Of course, she added, and individual donations would be greatly appreciated as well.

NONPROFIT APPLICATION

In addition, Mund said, they have applied for and are awaiting designation as a 501(c)3 non-profit, which will enable them to apply for many other grant opportunities.

“DTE Energy contacted us to say that as soon as we receive it (nonprofit designation) to let them know,” Mund said. “Spectrum Health said as soon as we get it to let them know. They gave to the Hemlock Park Project. The Community Foundation and General Mills give out all kinds of grants and they all require the nonprofit designation.

“As soon as we receive our nonprofit designation, we can market to local businesses and residents, and whether it is $5 or $50, all of it helps,” she said.

Mund said anything they raise that is not used for the splash pad/park project will be put toward other future projects the group plans to work on.

“We aren’t going anywhere,” she said. “This group is dedicated to bringing more opportunities for outdoor activities for residents and visitors of all ages. This is our first project, the splash pad, which has turned into an immaculate park area for our city. The next one we will look at will be the Mountain Bike Trail. We are also looking at a skate park and pickle ball courts similar to what Big Rapids is doing, but on a smaller scale and one step at a time.”

She added that there is also the possibility of doing more than one project at a time, depending on the availability of funding.

The Crossroads Recreation Connection started with a Facebook post by Ellen Finkbeiner about bringing a splash pad to Reed City, has developed into a dedicated group hoping to bring more activities and more people to the city, Mund said.

“We were silly enough to respond to Ellen’s Facebook page,” Mund said. “Ellen’s excitement just drew us all in, and we are glad she did. There are 10 or so of us that were born and raised her or have been here for 20-plus years. We are just trying to do something to bring more people to our downtown.

“We are always looking for more members and more donations,” she said. “I’m excited, our group is excited. If we get the grant, the timeline we are looking at is to have this (splash pad) up and running by summer of 2024.”

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the group or donating to the projects can reach out on the Crossroads Recreation Connection Facebook page.