EXISTING YORK TOWNSHIP PARKLANDS:
Currently, York Township has ownership of two designated park sites. Both are in the beginning stages of development which commenced in 2002. The larger park named Sandra Richardson Park is a 125 acre site located at the southeast corner of Willis Road and Platt Road. It is partially wooded, partially open with about 12 acres converted to Soccer playing fields. The second site, named Mary McCann Park is a 38 acre site located on Warner Road between Willis Road and Bemis Road. It also is partially wooded and partially open. Both sites have been owned by the township for some years since being deeded to the Township by the State of Michigan as they were surplus state land. In 2002, the Township, through the volunteer Parks and Recreation Committee began actively undertaking the planning and execution of activities to develop the two sites into community parklands. The major theme throughout the planning is conservation and preservation of the natural area and the protection of the wildlife and flora dwelling there. We note that future park sites are being looked at in other areas of the township especially closer to the City of Milan where considerable population growth is expected. The Parks and Recreation Committee is also looking for a potential park site along the Saline River.
SANDRA RICHARDSON PARK
Sandra Richardson Park, being the larger of the two, is being given priority in development as it offers more opportunity for a variety of recreational activities. The acreage converted to soccer fields is leased to the Saline Area Soccer Association for a twenty year term. S.A.S.A. has exclusive rights to use the fields as well as maintaining them. The soccer association has invested a large amount of money and effort to make the playing fields an excellent site for youth soccer competition.
In 2002, under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Committee, a 1.4 mile walking trail was cut across the open land into the woods where it makes a large loop through the woods and returns across the open lands to its termination back at the parking lot. This was the first activity of the newly created Committee. The trail is used daily by numerous persons who thus far have shown a respect for the serenity of the woods and have expressed an appreciation for having such a walking trail within the community. In 2003, another trail was added. It loops around the open prairie land and returns to the parking lot. Boy Scout Eagle projects have added a sheltered picnic table and two bridges crossing wet areas of the trails.
In 2004 the Parks and recreation Committee applied to the Michigan Natural resources Trust Fund for a grant which was awarded in 2005. The grant funds along with local match funds were used to construct a 32 foot by 40 foot picnic pavilion north of the parking lot along with the surfacing of a number of park trails to bring them to American Disabilities Act compliance. A handicapped parking pad was also constructed near the pavilion and portable restrooms were installed. The trail users experience was further enhanced with the construction of a shelter gazebo at the intersection of 3 trails and an arbor on top of a rise in the prairie. About 5 acres of the prairie was re-seeded with native grasses and wildflowers to enhance beauty as well as wildlife habitat. The historic Judd Road Bridge was re-assembled over the seasonal watercourse near Platt Road to facilitate passage to the northern areas of the park as well as to preserve a slice of local history. A Boy Scout Eagle project resulted in the construction of a boardwalk crossing the wetlands diagonally bisecting the park and allowing further year around access to the northern section of the park.
An additional 10 acres, fronting Willis Road was given to York Township by the State of Michigan in 2005 and added to Richardson Park. We have begun to develop this new area by the addition of split rail fence along Willis Road, tree plantings, and a temporary parking lot. Boy Scout Eagle projects continue to assist us in providing basic infrastructure.
As we seek to determine the eventual usage
of this area of the park, the overview plan calls for both active
and passive activities for both adults and children. Various ideas
have been suggested and recorded for continuing evaluation. The
final decisions will be heavily influenced by economic conditions,
population growth, and changing lifestyles, especially among
children. In the meantime, the Willis Road area may be opened on a
MARY MC CANN PARK
Mary McCann Park, being much smaller than Sandra Richardson Park is less accommodating for diversified recreational development. The 38 acre park is approximately half wooded and half open field. The ten year macro development plan put together in 2002 suggests planning for more passive activities such as nature trails, limited picnicking and wildlife observation. The first walking/nature trail was completed in 2003 and is about a mile in length. In 2004 a Boy Scout from Saline working on his Eagle Award, cut a new trail extension through the woods to the large open area to the east. The parks open area is too far from the road to be of practical use as an active playing field of any type. Cutting a roadway through the forest to the open area would be detrimental to the forest and wildlife.
A plan was conceived to develop the open field into an Ecological Demonstration Area representing stages of natural progression entitled Environmental Education and Passive Recreation Area. Various plots have been developed under the direction of local, state and federal experts and funded by a C.A.R.E.S. grant involving clearing, transplanting of plant stock and pond creation. A teaching station, seating up to 30 students, situated on a rise overlooking the entire open field and pond was constructed by another Boy Scout for his Eagle project. Further trails, seating around the pond and in the woods, and bat boxes have been added by other Boy Scout Eagle candidates. Other improvements to the part have been the construction of a parking lot large enough to accommodate a school bus, and three crossing points over the seasonal waterway, in addition to split rail fencing to prevent motorized intrusion.
PARK DEVELOPMENT PHILSOPHY
Development plans for both parks emphasize passive activities over active. The preservation of the forests and wildlife habitat are of prime importance and should be held as valuable resourses to our York Township community. Nature trails, picnicking, flower gardens, prairies and wildlife habitat protection are being developed as resourses allow. There is ample land available in the northwest quadrant of Richardson Park for more active recreation such as various sporting playing fields but development of this land and for these activities is not foreseen within the next ten years or longer. With three school systems, two cities and adjacent townships providing competitive sports activities and playgrounds, there is no current need for York Township to duplicate these facilities. York Township should have a span of at least ten years before active sports activities need to be seriously considered in specific planning detail.