Wayne County to invest millions in capital improvement projects and programming

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Wayne County is investing millions this year to enhance its park system, deliver events and educational programming for residents and support improvements to parks managed by local communities that are not a part of the County’s parks system.Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans announced $2.5 million is being invested to repair and enhance parks and other facilities. The improvements ensure residents have enjoyable experiences in the natural environments offered by the Wayne County Parks System. Another $1.25 million is also being allocated to parks and recreational programs managed by cities and townships; that’s above and beyond the funds being spent to support the parks and facilities in the Wayne County system. The total annual budget for the Wayne County Parks System this year is $15.3 million, which is inclusive of costs for operations, educational programming and special events at parks, maintenance equipment, staff, etc.
“We are putting the tax dollars of Wayne County residents to work by investing in one of the most important features in our communities, our parks system,” said Executive Evans. “The implementation of these improvement projects and our team’s commitment to delivering high quality programs that interest people of all ages, increases the quality of life for the residents. Wayne County parks are clean, safe and fun, and it is our priority to maintain that standard through our Capital Improvement Plan.”
The Capital Improvement Plan for this year concentrates on 17 projects, including installation of new equipment, a critical infrastructure assessment, upgrades to facilities, and trailway developments. Also included are planned upgrades to comfort stations to ensure accessibility for visitors with disabilities. Several shelters, playgrounds and gathering spaces will also be improved. These repairs and enhancements will help to ensure that the Wayne County Parks system continues to be an asset to the community.
A map of the planned projects can be found at www.waynecounty.com/CapitalImprovements.
Wayne County Parks’ system is comprised of 41 parks and facilities encompassing over 5,600 acres of parkland, two golf courses, a marina, and a water park. Thousands of visitors take part in approximately 515 educational programs and events the parks’ system hosts annually.
Among park-goers, there continues to be a demand to connect cultural and natural assets into educational experiences. This years’ operating budget supports continued access to programs designed for children, families, and seniors by including a diverse selection of cultural experiences and activities.
“The programming and activities that we provide for our residents is a great mix of recreational opportunities, educational activities, and cultural programming,” said Beverly Watts, Director of the Department of Public Services. “The Capital Improvement Investments help to sustain these vibrant public spaces, which makes all of Wayne County’s 43 communities stronger.”
As part of Executive Evans’ continued commitment to making Wayne County government operate effectively and efficiently, the Parks Division is developing the County’s master plan and also pursuing accreditation from Commission for Accreditations for Parks and Recreation Association. In 1996, a millage to fund Wayne County Parks was first approved by Wayne County voters. Since then, the millage has passed on three subsequent occasions – if successful, this year’s “Proposition P” would be the fourth renewal of the millage first passed in 1996. The value of the taxes collected by the millage is dictated annually by the value of Wayne County properties – there is not an amount that stays the same year after year; currently the millage collects about $9,000,000 to be used for parks throughout Wayne County. The millage dollars pay for not only the operations, programming, maintenance equipment and capital improvements within the Wayne County Parks system, but also help pay for improvements to many locally-owned parks throughout our Wayne County cities and townships.
Wayne County Parks is a division of the Wayne County Department of Public Services with the purpose of enhancing the quality of life for families and citizens of the 43 communities of Wayne County. We maintain 5,600 acres of parkland and operate 41 locations, which include 37 parks, two golf courses, a marina and the Wayne County Family Aquatic Center. Wayne County Parks holds hundreds of educational and recreational events all year long including field trips, nature walks, and host classic annual events such as the Marshmallow Drops at Nankin Mills and Elizabeth Park, New Country on the River, and Jazz on the River.
Wayne County is committed to offering the best park experiences for families to enjoy. For more information about Wayne County Parks, please call 734.261.1990 or visit www.parks.waynecounty.com.A map of the 17 planned Capital Improvement Projects scheduled for this year can be found at www.waynecounty.com/CapitalImprovements but below are some highlights from the list.
Elizabeth Park is a nearly 100-year-old, 162-acre island park located in the lower Detroit River in Trenton. It is the home of major events hosted by Wayne County such as Jazz on the River, New Country on the River and Park it Family Fun Night. Visitors enjoy the park for its natural beauty, outdoor recreational activities and picnicking with the family.
Elizabeth Park Greenway and Shoreline Restoration. This project will provide a safe 4,000-foot long, 10 foot wide greenway trail for bikers and pedestrians along a portion of Jefferson Avenue located in Elizabeth Park. It will also provide a link via Riverside Street to Trenton’s Central Business District, its three riverfront parks and other points north. This greenway trail will also connect to the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge Gateway and is part of the Iron Belle Trail. The canal shoreline habitat restoration involves the use of soft shoreline engineering techniques to stabilize the shores of the canal, enhance habitat for fish and wildlife, minimize flooding and erosion through a number of initiatives, remove invasive plant species, construct five fishing platforms and improve access for canoeing and kayaking.
Hines Park is a 17-mile parkway that runs through Northville, Plymouth, Livonia, Westland, and Dearborn Heights. Hines Park includes 25 park segments that have amenities such as soccer fields, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, picnic areas, and comfort stations.
Ellsworth Boardwalk and Trailhead Parking. The Ellsworth Boardwalk and Trailhead Parking is planned in the Holliday Nature Preserve which is frequented by naturalists who lead hikes with scout, school and family groups This project protects and enhances our natural resources while providing the community with trials, walks, and a bikeway to explore and enjoy the nature preserve. Because the preserve is located in a floodplain area, the installation will allow visitors to access the preserve from dawn to dusk, even in inclement weather. Included with this project is a parking lot and trailhead that will provide a fully accessible route for this portion of the trail system.
Water Line Assessment and Replacement Strategy. Many of the facilities in Hines Park were built during the 1930’s and 1940’s, which can present a challenge for dependable water lines. An assessment of the current conditions of all water lines will be made and recommendations will be provided on cost effectively repairing and/or replacing water lines throughout the park.
Crosswinds Marsh is a 1,000 acre marsh and one of the most pristine wetlands in the state of Michigan. Located in Sumpter Township, the marsh offers year-round activities including trails for hiking, horseback riding and cross-county skiing. Visitors can also enjoy natural science educational programming and related events for schools, scout groups and families.       Design and construction of Comfort Station. The marsh has operated without a restroom facility or running water for 20 years. The addition of the comfort station will enhance the experiences for student groups and other visitors who take advantage of the beautiful nature of the park.
Countywide Restroom Upgrades
Wayne County has begun the upgrading of restroom facilities to ensure visitors with disabilities can fully enjoy the Parks’ system. The improvement plan will upgrade comfort stations in Lola Valley Park in Redford, Nankin Mills in Westland, and Inkster Park in Inkster and include ramp and stair replacement, parking, and sidewalk connections to facilities. The improvements are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.In addition to the Capital Improvement projects slated this year, Wayne County Parks is continuing work with partners on a boat dock and fishing pier that will extend 775 feet into the Detroit River at the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge Gateway. The project includes a universally-accessible boardwalk, fishing pier, and floating dock with seating areas and shade structures.Highlights of Wayne County Parks’ Programming
School Field Trip and Outreach Programs
Wayne County Parks’ educational programs include field trips designed to enhance the understanding of nature in fun and innovative ways. Many of these programs, including “All About Birds” and “Inspects Incognito,” are available as outreach programs. Our naturalists will come to your location to present the program.
Home School Programs
Wayne County Parks offers a variety of programs for children 6-10 years old that are designed to compliment a home school curriculum. We cover nature-related topics through discussion, crafts and hands-on activities.
Scout Badge Workshops
Crosswinds Marsh offers two-hour workshops designed to help Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts meet badge requirements.
Outdoor Botany Hikes for AdultsThe Nankin Mills Botany Hike series is a chance for adults to explore some of the hidden treasures of Wayne County parks and learn more about identifying different plants with a Park Naturalist.
Aquatic Center Swim Lessons
Participants of all ages can learn how to swim or increase their ability at the Wayne County Aquatic Center. Half-hour swim lessons are held weekly and more involved two-week sessions run from June through August.
Marshmallow Drop
This year marked Wayne County Parks’ 32nd anniversary of the Marshmallow Drop. Blizzards of 20,000 marshmallows fill the sky before they tumble from the Easter Bunny’s helicopter. Families enjoy this festive event rain or shine.
Nursery School Olympics
This is an event for tomorrow’s champions. The Nursery School Olympics includes engaging and fun activities for children ages 5 and younger that include diaper derby, toddler trot, big wheel grand prix and marshmallow shot put.
Park It Family Fun Night
This is a free night of fun for the entire family that includes live music, children activities, giveaways, a movie under the stars and more. The event is hosted at Elizabeth Park in Trenton and has been a visitor favorite for years.
Jazz on the River
Jazz on the River is an evening of Jazz in the beautiful Elizabeth Park. Guests bring blankets and chairs and spend the evening enjoying the wonderful music of talented jazz artists.
New Country on the River
New Country on the River is designed to be the premier country event of the summer with five regional country acts on stage throughout the day.
Native American Heritage Day
Native American Heritage Day is a special gathering where culture and heritage are celebrated at Nankin Mills Park. Native American artisans demonstrate, display, and sell crafts, a drumming circle leads dancers in beautiful regalia through a ceremony and a variety of Native American foods are available.


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