- By Dan Veaner
While Lansing's Town Recreation programs are closed according to state coronavirus guidance, updates to town parks have been progressing. Field maintenance and new donated turf in the two batting cages is being done. Restrooms in the parks will be open during the day, and several of the pavilions at Meyers Park are getting electrical upgrades and new lighting. Security camera installation at Myers Park has begun, and Kayak storage spaces are almost sold out.
But Town of Lansing Parks & Rec. Supervisor Patrick Tyrrell and Lansing Director of Planning C.J. Randall have a much bigger vision, not just for Myers Park, but for parks and trails in the town as a whole. In addition to continuing to try to get funding for a Myers Park Master Plan, the pair have been working with the Town's Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee to create a Request For Proposals (RFP) that could expand the town's park and trail systems, and potentially join town trails with those in the Village. This Month the Town Board approved the issuance of the RFP that will result in another Master Plan called the 'Parks, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan'.
"A lot of hard work and time went into preparing this RFP, many thanks to C.J. and our committee members," Tyrrell says. "My hope is that we will get this plan in place relatively soon to be able to apply for several different sources of funding. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Lansing Parks & Recreation."
The committee is made up of Lansing residents including town officials, a developer, the Village of Lansing Deputy Mayor, and a teacher. The RFP is asking firms for proposals on creating a new master plan that will not only determine projects in Myers Park, but for all the town parks and trails, in much the same way as the Town Center Committee developed a plan a decade ago.
Committee members finalized the wording of the RFP in a meeting on May 19th, and the Town Board approved it the next day.
It reads, in part, "The goal of the project is to develop a community-supported plan that provides guidance for future development and redevelopment of the Town’s parks, recreation programming, trails, and facilities. The Parks, Recreation, and Trails Master Plan will guide policy development, delivery of Town services, prioritize demand and opportunities, and generate a strategic Action Plan. It will support expansion opportunities through a needs assessment using forecasted demographic change, public demand, etc."
The scope of the work includes reviewing existing materials including the Myers Park Master Plan, and coming up with new maps showing existing parks and trails, an outline of how the public would be included in the process, and finally a draft Parks and Trails System Master Plan suggesting improvements and estimating costs.
"We have an opportunity to engage the public in an era where people are finding solace in the Town’s parks and trails in a way they hadn’t before," Randall says. "And it’s easy to imagine people may have a new appreciation for the rich array of recreational activities the Town offers and the staff that makes it happen. The Town is looking for guidance on not only how to implement the parks and trails projects that residents have actively expressed interest in seeing brought to fruition – and also how to pay for them – but also the opportunity to start weaving the desired policies into the Town’s development review process so that anyone seeking to develop property in the Town knows what the Planning Board may expect during their review. The Town’s Parks, Recreation, and Trails Advisory Committee will act as the evaluation committee and make a recommendation to the Town Supervisor regarding final selection of the firm."
Randall told the Town Board that she expects many responses to the RFP, and noted that some funding is already available. In 2017 the Town Board created a capital reserve fund, with a goal of saving $150,000 specifically for parklands and trailway planning and development related land use rights, acquisitions, equipment, and so forth. Tyrrell said that the reserve currently has about $30,000 in funding. With new funds this year Randall said she thought it might be up to $45,000.
Company responses will be scored, and the top-scoring respondents will be interviewed. Once a plan is developed the Town Board will have to approve any expenditures, and it will also provide a basis for Randall and Tyrrell to apply for grants.
"There is a lot of interest in the plan," Randall said. "I've already heard from a couple of firms like completely unsolicited, saying that if we have parks projects, or playgrounds or things like that to keep them on our radar."