2007-2011 Ingham County Parks Master Plan

Download a copy of the 2007-2011 Ingham County Parks Master Plan

The Ingham County Parks & Recreation Commission has developed a Master Plan to establish a framework that will help to guide decision making over the Five Year period for which the plan covers. This executive summary provides a brief overview of the 2007-2011 Master Plan, which should be consulted in its entirety for details.

The Process
During the summer and fall of 2006, Michigan State University conducted 21 public focus groups representing diverse groups of Ingham County residents. These public focus groups, coupled with input from of Park and Recreation Commission members and Park staff formed the basis behind the concepts outlined in the Master Plan. In addition, two public information meetings were held to collect comments from other interested community members and groups.

An inventory of existing recreation lands within Ingham County has also been included within the Master Plan. This recreation lands inventory is a key component in the planning of any future park acquisition and/or development.

Focus Group Needs Assessment
The focus group interviews conducted through Michigan State University established park related concepts for which Ingham County residents expressed their opinions. These concepts were as follows:

  • Connect parks with trails and greenways
  • Acquisition of park land
  • Undeveloped natural and quiet areas
  • Events and activities to attract people
  • Recreational opportunities with dogs
  • Environmental education and interpretive trails
  • Campgrounds
  • Multiple use parks
  • Separate conflicting recreational activities
  • Water park

Goals, Objectives and Actions
The information obtained through public focus groups interviews laid the foundation for the goals and objectives of this Master Plan. The Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission will use these goals and objectives as decision making guidelines during the next five years.

Goal: Acquire Easements and develop trails that connect major recreation, cultural, economic, and business centers on a regional level.

The Commission should continue to research and identify key linkages for the Heart of Michigan Trail system and pursue the development of these areas. The completion of the Lake Lansing portion of the Heart of Michigan Trail system is of high priority. An existing MDNRTF grant will allow for the construction of the trail from Lake Lansing Park South in Meridian Township to Park Lake Road. The second phase of the Lake Lansing Trail would link Park Lake Road to the campus of Michigan State University where it would link into the campus trail system and the Lansing River Trail.

Developing non-motorized pathways within County Park facilities should also be a priority of the Commission. The development of non-motorized paths within parks would provide a linkage mechanism to the Heart of Michigan Trail system whereas trail users could access various areas of each park via the trail. Consideration should be given to the development of trails around the interior park areas in order to make a continuous trail system. A loop system has been established at Hawk Island County Park and has enjoyed widespread acceptance. Whereas one of the main goals of the Heart of Michigan Trail system is to link park areas, it is essential to develop these in-park trails for connectivity purposes.

Possible funding sources for the expansion of the Heart of Michigan Trail system include the Michigan DNR Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Land & Water Conservation Fund, Michigan Department of Transportation, Ingham County Capital Improvement monies, and by partnering with other local governmental entities within Ingham County. We are currently partnering with Meridian Township and Lansing to construct sections of the Heart of Michigan Trail.

Goal: Maintain adequate active and passive open space to meet the needs of the community

The Park Commission will explore the feasibility of acquiring land that becomes available for sale or through donation. The Park Commission will also consider acquiring existing park and/or recreation land within Ingham County from other agencies should the opportunity present itself. Possible funding sources for acquisition include grants administered by the Michigan DNR.

The Park Commission should also consider acquisition opportunities that would provide for the expansion of the Heart of Michigan Trail system. Such land acquisition would include both linear strips of land and/or small parcels that would accommodate a parking area or resting area along the trail route.

In order to continue the longstanding policy of the Board of Commissioners, the transfer of smaller parks such as Baldwin Park should be pursued as part of an effort to acquire other larger properties.

Goal: Provide Undeveloped Natural & Quiet Areas within Ingham County Parks.

Identify appropriate locations for undeveloped natural & quiet areas within Ingham County Parks. In any new acquisition and development projects, care should be taken to ensure that there are both active and passive recreation areas within the park.

Goal: Provide Entertainment activities within Ingham County Parks that serve to attract people to the park facilities.

The Commission should explore ways in which to better market the existing entertainment activities within the parks. Current entertainment includes free summer concerts at Lake Lansing Park South, Free Days during the summer at Hawk Island, Lake Lansing, and Burchfield Parks, and Free Winter sports Days at Lake Lansing Park North and Burchfield Park. The Commission should also look at ways to provide additional County sponsored activities which provide opportunities for entertainment within the park system. Recreation programming is usually provided by local Park and Recreation agencies throughout Ingham County. The Ingham County Parks Department should work with these agencies and make them aware of opportunities for them to provide programming within county park facilities.

Goal: Provide additional park areas for dog owners to recreate with their dogs.

There is currently a group of residents developing a dog park adjacent to Hawk Island County Park. The Parks and Recreation Commission anticipates entering into an agreement with the City of Lansing enabling us to operate the dog park. Staff brought up the idea of developing a dog park facility at Lake Lansing North due to the large number or persons that utilize the park with the dogs.

Goal: Provide areas for “dogs on leash” in some parks.

Explore the possibility of allocating additional areas where dogs and their owners may recreate. Funding for the concept of “dogs on leash” does not require grants and would create a minimum expense from general fund dollars.

Goal: Provide increased environmental education opportunities to Ingham County residents.

In the last two years, Nature Day Camp has been reintroduced at Burchfield County Park in Delhi Township. This day camp focuses on providing young children the opportunity to explore the natural environment including day hikes, animal identification, and other fun activities. Through camp surveys completed by parents and camp participants, the nature day camp has proven to be very successful. The Parks Department has also recently begun holding a fishing derby each summer where area youth are invited to catch trout at a stocked pond within Burchfield County Park. It is the intention of the Parks Department to continue to offer these programs, and to advertise the availability of these programs to residents of Ingham County. Additional programming and the development of “self-guided” nature trails should be explored.

Goal: Provide Parks that promote multiple recreation uses.

The Ingham County Parks Commission currently develops parks with the idea of providing multiple uses within one facility. The newest park to the system, Hawk Island County Park, exemplifies this concept. Multiple uses at Hawk Island include such recreational activities as a paved walking path, swimming beach, community built playground, water splash pad, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, picnic areas, and a sledding hill. Residents during the focus group interviews confirmed their desire to have different recreational options at each park. The concept of providing multiple use parks should continue with any new land acquisition or when redesigning current park areas.

New and innovative recreational opportunities that should be explored include both winter and summer activities. New summer activities include facilities such as water splash pads, while winter activities include such activities as snow tubing.

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