By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — Major changes could be coming to Lange Park as a result of a possible intergovernmental agreement with Wayne County.
The City Council was asked to give its consent for the 40-acre park north of Eureka and west of Beech Daly, and the consent agreement, which passed unanimously Feb. 15.
Parks and Recreation Director Guido Ulin said the consent request lets the city to know it should invest more time and continue developing the project before bringing it back to the council for consideration.
“Wayne County asked that we proceed with this because they want to know before they do all their due diligence, if we willing to at least listen,” Mayor Tim Woolley said. “I can tell you from the response we’ve gotten, they’re very excited about the project.”
Ulin said the majority of the commissioners and up to the top office in the department were impressed by the presentation.
“It checked all the boxes for the funding source that they would be using, and in return that we would be using,” he said at the meeting. “It seems like a win-win for the whole area, obviously for the citizens of Taylor and the county.”
Woolley said, the county received “a lot of” American Rescue Plan Act money and the federal government is trying to get municipalities to put a little money into similar projects.
“So that’s where we are in the negation part of the percentage,” he said. “The percentage will just depend on how many things we can do in the park.”
Additions to the park could be completed by the summer of 2023, if things continue moving forward as they are now with no interruptions.
Once the project is approved, shovels could be in the ground by June to start the 14- to 15-month buildout, Ulin said.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property, still has what I would call an urban forest there so it’s unique to be in the middle of a city of 65,000 people and still have that splendor to it,” Ulin said.
The proposed upgrades are a sledding hill for winter activity; geometric dome climbers, which are a newer version of metal climbers and arches; miles of walking tails not interrupting the woods; an ability to have ice skating in the winter; slack line courses, a smaller version of a zip-line; a pavilion for picnics; outdoor fitness course; and restrooms.
“In a nutshell it’s a lot of activity, it’s unique to the area and it’s not your standard cookie cutter park,” Ulin said. He also said that a security system is factored into the buildout and that the Police Department will be involved with it.
Another addition would be fort-style playscapes, which Ulin said would have different ways to climb and enter along with different slide features.
Something that was popular and generated a lot of questions during the surveys was a BMX pump track similar to what Wayne County has on Hines Drive and is heavily used, Ulin said.
An 18-hole disc golf course is planned at Lange following the success at the course at Boardman Park.
Ulin spoke about other upgrades under the plan, one being foot golf, which is soccer-style golf where players use their feet instead of clubs. He said all that would be needed to play is a soccer ball or ball that fits into the game cylinder.
A fishing pond with a dock is a big box to check, Ulin told the council, because opportunity is what the city has to offer people.
“Some of these kids don’t have the ability to get in the car to go up north or get taken to a lake to fish, so this would give that ability,” he said. “We could work with local fishing clubs, teach them how to fish catch-and-release, but at least they would get that opportunity to participate in that.”
An alternative sport the city hopes to bring the Lange Park is skateboarding with the addition of a skateboard park. Woolley said he has sent a few emails and has been in contact with somebody at Tony Hawk Foundation which awards grants to build skateparks in municipalities.
“We’re going to try to pursue that angle as well to use less money — where we can use that on other things and possibly have a grant pay and build the skate facility,” he said.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)