EATON COUNTY PARKS RECEIVES MNRTF GRANT FOR CRANDELL LAKE PROJECT
Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Chairman Bob Garner announced the 2012-2013 grant awards for outdoor recreation at its December 5, 2012, meeting in Lansing. Included in the 22 statewide grants awarded was $3,075,000 to the Eaton County Parks Commission for the acquisition of 432 acres near Charlotte, which contains a 160 acre lake, located between Flanders and Stewart Roads just east of I-69 exit #60.
The project, known as Crandell Lake, was moved forward after nearly five years of planning and included a private donation by Randy and Daniel Crandell of $1,035,000 as part of the required local matching funds. The MNTRF grant list now goes to the Michigan Legislature for final appropriations, which is expected early in 2013. A private independent appraisal is required and a variety of agreements will be finalized once the appropriation is made.
Crandell Lake Project FAQ's (printable PDF format) Updated 01/28/13
Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers (FAQ's) regarding the project.
Q: Will my taxes go up? (updated)
Answer: Economic Development experts visualize the Park as a major attraction for the mid-Michigan region. Property values in similar park projects generally indicate a 7-10 percent increase in property immediately adjacent to new Park land with re-sale value being greatly enhanced. Currently, there are no County General Funds invested. With limited local resources and stable revenue very limited, Park development will be a very slow process.
Q: What is the source of the water in the Lake? Run-off? Snow Pack? Rainfall? (new)
Answer: The Lake is spring fed and has required pumping in recent years during its life as a commercial gravel pit. There should be little chance of it going dry.
Q: Have safety concerns been addressed about the high tension power line that crosses the Lake? (new)
Answer: Yes, reliable power industry experts indicate that the towers are built to withstand hurricane winds. Should there be a major break in the high tension line, power will be automatically shut-off. Outside of the visual intrusion, there is little or no danger.
Q: Will there be a motor vehicle entry fee? (new)
Answer: Yes, the Eaton County Parks adopted a motor vehicle entry fee in 1981. A vehicle entry fee is in effect year around at Fitzgerald Park, Lincoln Brick Park and Fox Park. There are no fees to utilize Keehne Environmental Park, Butler Park and Dyer Kiln Historic Site in Bellevue, along with the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail in Vermontville, Duane Tirrell Memorial Park south of Charlotte and the Optimist Youth Camp.
Q: When will the Grant become official?
Answer: MNRTF awarded the grant on December 4, 2012, which will require State of Michigan Legislative approval in the budget process. The Grant will become “official” with passage of an appropriation Bill, signature by the Governor and finalization of a contract with the Eaton County Commission and the MNRTF.
Q: How much money is involved? Where does the money come from?
Answer: The Grant comes from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, based on royalties for minerals being extracted on State of Michigan Lands. No tax dollars or support from the State General Fund are involved in the program. The initial independent appraisal estimated a market value of $4,100,000. A new independent appraisal will be required prior to a final award.
Q: Does the Grant require local matching funds? Where do those funds come from?
Answer: The MNRTF program, created in 1975, requires a minimum of 25 percent of the acquisition price as matching fund sharing. The landowners will donate that percentage from the final established price. No Eaton County funds were pledged for this project.
Q: When will the Park be open and running?
Answer: The Eaton County Parks Commission will develop a long range development strategy to determine priorities, facilities, fund sources and programs prior to any commitment for operation. Detailed property description, a 40 year title search, environmental impact report and appropriate closing documents will require appropriate time to complete the transaction, along with the secondary appraisal.
Q: What activities are planned for the Park?
Answer: A 2010 Feasibility Study was completed by the Eaton County Commission that indicated potential users for boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, winter sports, playgrounds, sports complex fields trials, picnic areas, biking, nature study, wildlife habitat and assorted other uses.
Q: How will these activities be paid for?
Answer: Similar to the 10 year development plan at the Grand Ledge Lincoln Brick Park and the 5 year plan at Potterville’s Fox Park, each facility will be developed in phases when financial support is available. Specific user groups already have expressed interest in assisting with development projects. Innovative contracts will be sought, along with gifts, grants, donations, estate transfers, private turn-key operations, inter-agency projects, long term easements, leasing and reserve funds will all be on the table. Like the Chinese proverb that “the longest journey starts with the first step”, Crandell Lake will be developed “one step at a time”.
Q: Why did MNRTF like this project?
Answer: It will be the largest public access lake within a 30-40 mile radius and will provide recreational opportunities for tourism and enable residents easy travel to enjoy the benefits without having to travel several hours to have similar experiences. The region will add a major contributor to the agriculture and commercial business bases and provide new customers and revenue to the adjacent communities.
Q: Can the County afford to operate another Park?
Answer: With proper planning, patience and support, yes! New partnerships will be formed to utilize the expertise to have the Grant fulfill its potential. With a gradual economic recovery, management opportunities will surface. When that happens, Eaton County becomes an option for resident and a destination for visitors.
Q: What is the formula for success of the Park?
Answer: Public support, continued interest, community commitments, dedicated user organizations, restored public funding, fully utilizing existing support programs, corporate and foundation resources and political will to succeed through responsible leadership. All of those components exist in Eaton County.
For more information, please contact Director John Greenslit, Eaton County Parks, 517-627-7351.