Upgrades on the way soon

NEGAUNEE – The city of Negaunee is moving forward with plans to renovate and upgrade the equipment and facilities at Bernie Rivers Field Park, unanimously adopting a resolution at its July meeting to provide the match funding necessary for the project grant.

At that meeting, Negaunee City Manager Jeff Thornton told the council that as part of the grant administered through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources the city was obligated to provide $100,000 of the roughly $200,000 project, but he explained that the amount didn’t have to be in cash.

“The $100,000, what the Parks and Recreation (Committee) has presented to us (is) … the city of Negaunee will not be required to cut a check to pay for the local match amounts – it will come from in-kind contributions,” he said.

About 15 percent of the project’s cost is for engineering services, but Superior Play, the downstate Brighton-based firm providing the city’s engineering for the renovations, will provide in-kind services for 13 percent of that, Thornton said.

“So we’re actually going to use that difference (in funds saved) toward the match, we’re going to use … in-kind (labor), we’re going to use the money that we get from the state to buy the materials and our manpower is going to do work at the field,” he said.

About half the project costs will come from a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant, disbursed through MDNR.

Of the remaining amount, more than $54,000 will come from in-kind labor provided by the city’s Department of Public Works.

The city hopes to get the remainder of the funds through donations.

The project includes renovations to the baseball field and basketball courts; installation of new playground equipment compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; new horseshoe courts; permanent fitness equipment, including a tai chi station, cardio stepper, ab crunch station and polymetrics station, among others; on-site parking; and a walking path that could eventually connect to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail.

“The Parks and Rec really has worked hard on getting the money to do this…” said Councilwoman Dawn Schuhknecht. “Miner’s Park is getting proved to be an asset to our community, so it’d be nice to have one on the other side of (U.S.) 41 for kids and families to attend.”

Douglas Smith Jr., Superior Play’s recreation consultant for the project, said they hope to begin work on the infield of the baseball field this fall, with the remainder of the work to be completed in 2015.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.