One of my favorite parts of being Village President is visiting classrooms to talk to students about local government. Nancy Dickman at Pinckney Elementary would have her kids come up with uses for spaces in the Village – like the old Patterson Lake Products site, the Depot, Loy Bond Park – and then present them at a mock Council meeting. If you were wondering, water parks are a big priority with the age 10 and under population.
Fast forward to 2011, and I am doing the same thing with high school freshmen in the SciTech class at Pinckney’s New Tech High (http://pnt.pinckneyschools.org/). When Carrie Kempf and Michalle Meyers contacted me to see if I could help them with a community project, we settled on a development project for Loy Bond Park, a small village-owned park on Elizabeth Street. The former site of water wells and a storage tank (and on the original subdivision plan, called “Waterworks Park” – maybe those elementary kids weren’t too far off the mark!), the park gained its ancient playground equipment and name when the Village had to relocate the structures from another location.
The SciTech kids were better than awesome at this. I gave them a budget of $20,000 and asked them not to make our DPW clean bathrooms. After a site visit, they developed their plans, researched their equipment, and even tracked environmental impact of the equipment production. They dealt with maintenance issues, costs and safety. Each group of 4 or 5 students presented to their classmates, and the two top teams were chosen to present their ideas to Village Council. Were we impressed? Whoa, were we ever, as were some Economic Development Council representatives who made a decidedly less high-tech presentation afterwards (“That will be hard act to follow,” they said. “How old were they?”).
Videos of the two presentations can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNMTnHg4TQQ&feature=youtu.be and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQxc2RgjP0o&feature=youtu.be.
So, my brain was full of fabulous ideas when I attended a workshop on Department of Natural Resources grant opportunities and discovered that the new Recreation Passport grants could be used to develop and improve public parks (more info on Recreation Passport http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10365_55798—,00.html). But nothing is ever as easy as you want it to be, is it? And kids should be introduced early to the world of red tape and regulations anyway. The park will need to be developed in phases, because we need to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act in terms of access. This is definitely NOT a bad thing, but it means that the first step will be to construct a walkway around the perimeter of the park so whatever equipment is added later will be easily accessible. The plan also includes benches, picnic tables, trash cans, new sign and maybe even a pavilion – all features included in the SciTech projects. Estimated total cost is under $50,000, with the grant funding 75% of that – if we are successful. Wish us luck!