By Sue Moore
Who knew there was a park in Vicksburg called Veteran’s Park? Perhaps only Ken Schippers and his crew at the Department of Public Works (DPW) that oversees the six parks and two special use recreation facilities in the village. The committee preparing the five-year update of the parks and recreation master plan learned about this 0.21 acre mini-park when it was listed for the first time in the document they spent several months reviewing.
The miniature park is located on the south end of Sunset Lake and presently looks like an extension of the Edward Jones building on W. Prairie Street. It has been a popular site for fishing over the years and the plan recommends it get better signage and cleaned.
One of the most important aspects of the five-year plan calls for a non-motorized eight foot paved pedestrian and cyclist pathway through the village, beginning where the Recreation Park trailhead starts. It would wind through the village, roughly following the Grand Trunk railroad tracks, crossing Sunset Lake Pond, then skirting Clark Park, go along Portage Creek to the current pathway to Angels Crossing golf course. Eventually, the plan would link up through Schoolcraft Township and on to Schrier Park off Osterhout Road in Portage.
The committee in conjunction with the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) considers this to be the number one priority for applying for grants. They see getting it built in 2016 if the grant money becomes available.
Another important part of the plan would be the acquisition of land that would be called Lee Park, at the southern tip of the Sunset Lake pond across from Bridge Organics and next to the dam that runs under Washington Street.
In a citizen survey conducted in September, many respondents felt the continued maintenance of existing parks should remain a high priority for the village to ensure the quality of these areas. The action plan that resulted from the survey and the committee’s input, calls for upgrades to the disc golf area in the Recreation Park and parking lot improvements there. It indicates that structural improvements need to take place at Sunset Lake Park, uniform park signage should be instituted, and a promenade be built in Clark Park, all of this in the year 2015 if the money becomes available through grants and volunteer efforts.
There are other improvements to the park system recommended through 2019, when the plan would be revisited once again.
The committee headed by James Earl, was assisted by Laura Haw, of McKenna Associates out of Northville, MI. McKenna provided an acreage analysis of all the parks, analyzed the availability of parks in the village and concluded that Vicksburg is under the recommended acreage for mini, neighborhood and community parks. However, a wealth of recreation amenities are available to Village residents and visitors, often exceeding the amount suggested by MDNR standards based on Vicksburg’s population size. In terms of regional parks (Kalamazoo County primarily) there is a tremendous amount of parkland for the village of 2,884 inhabitants.
Hard copy editions of the plan are available for the public to review at the village hall and the library. An electronic version is on the village’s web site. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 15 at the village council meeting at 7 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library.