SHOWN IS THE HERITAGE PARK NORTH fishing pier with a scenic overlook of the Shiawassee River in Corunna as it was still being worked on in 2021. A barrier-free walkway connects Heritage Park North to Heritage Park South where the dam was removed.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

 

   Corunna City Council held a public hearing on the new parks and recreation plan during the regular council meeting on Monday, Jan. 24. The new parks plan, adopted during the meeting, will continue through 2026. Individuals involved in formulating the new parks plan primarily include Corunna Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Champion-Julian, along with the Corunna Parks and Recreation Commission and city council members.

   The intro to the new parks and recreation plan states the plan “is intended to guide decisions affecting the future development and improvement of the city’s parks, recreational facilities and programs. The previous Recreational Master Plan was adopted in 2015. This update includes evaluations of parks, facilities and programming to determine where improvements can be made.” The parks and recreation plan essentially outlines a series of short-term and long-term goals for the commission and council to focus on going forward – which is critical to the grant application/matching grant process to bring extra funding into the community for park and recreational improvements.

   The previous plan saw numerous improvements under the commission/city including the addition of two temporary concession stands and new dugouts on fields 5, 6 and the Larry Frank Field, resurfacing of the hockey rink and the addition of bleachers and a scoreboard, additions to the Corunna Historic Village with the blacksmith shop, James Oliver Curwood cabin and the bicycle museum, the completion of Heritage Park South with the fishing pier (following the dam removal) and numerous other small and large-scale improvements.

   As part of the new plan, an inventory of “recreational facilities, programs and events” was developed as one of the founding components. This inventory will assist with future decision-making efforts, but also allows outside government and organizational entities to understand what Corunna has to offer when being considered for grant funds. A complete inventory list is available in the plan. Within the city of Corunna, the overall open-air or green space inventory includes McCurdy Park, Stu Coutts Recreation Area, Mitchell Ball Fields, Heritage Park, Corunna Public Library, Corunna City Hall, Corunna Historical Village, Louise Peacock Elementary School, Elsa Meyer Elementary School, Corunna Middle School, Corunna High School, Corunna Hills Golf Course, Riverbend Bowling, Corunna High School Soccer and Ball Fields and Corunna High School Tennis Courts. The overall culmination of these open-air spaces is attractive to individuals and/or businesses wishing to invest in the area, particularly following sociological trends as the pandemic continues with more people spending time outside.

   The process for the plan began in September 2021 as recreational stakeholders were contacted and the Corunna Parks and Recreation Commission became involved early in October to disseminate and rank information provided through the stakeholders. A draft of the plan was posted to the public for an entire month – between Dec. 20, 2021 and Jan. 20, 2022 – leading up to the adoption of the plan on Jan. 24. The city will now submit the plan to the state for review, prior to implementation.

   Just a few of the goals listed in the new plan include providing/encouraging outdoor recreational opportunities for Corunna residents, improve/expanding trail networks (non-motorized) connecting city assets to surrounding areas and communities, improving community “attractiveness” through routine maintenance and by upgrading existing assets, work toward communal park spaces and encourage programming to attract people of all ages.

   Corunna City Manager Joe Sawyer shared that one project near the top of his list includes a second public restroom facility in McCurdy Park. He would like that restroom to be centrally situated between the new youth community center, the ball fields and the hockey rink, where it would be accessible to a large number of park assets. Current construction costs and the desperate need in the area for more contractors will factor in to the timing of projects.

Corunna Five Year Parks and Recreation Plan Adopted was last modified: February 3rd, 2022 by Karen Elford