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Eaton County is upgrading three community parks with millage funding

Playground equipment in Sharp Park, Delta Township
Delta Township
Playground equipment at Sharp Park in Delta Township will be upgraded through the community grant program.

Eaton County recently awarded $400,000 for improvements in three community parks.

The funds come from the Eaton County Parks and Recreation Millage that was passed by the county’s voters in November 2022.

“It’s a half a mill parks millage that generates about $2.2 million for the county on an annual basis,” Eaton County commissioner Terrance Augustine said.

While the primary use of the funds is to invest in the county park system, Augustine said the commissioners also wanted to make sure that local parks benefited from the millage by circulating some of the money back through a community grant program.

This is the second year the millage has generated funds.

“Last year we granted out around $600,000 of that $2 million to local communities,” Augustine said.

This year, the county received about 15 applications from several municipalities and townships, he said.

“We want to spread this money throughout the county,” Augustine said. “There are some areas that don’t have county parks, but we wanted the residents that lived in that area and that are paying these taxes to benefit from this millage as well.”

Three projects were awarded funds through the grant this year.

Oneida Township is receiving funding to enhance the grounds of its township hall. Other projects funded include accessible playground equipment in Delta Township’s Sharp Park and rehabilitating an old school building into a recreational facility in Eaton Rapids.

Augustine said that the county is still evaluating how to best use the funds generated from the parks millage.

“We’re in the process specifically of doing master planning for our biggest parks in the county,” Augustine said. “That’s going to help determine the priority of how we spend some of this money.”

The majority of the levied funds goes to the operations of the county park system, Augustine said.

“It also goes to address some deferred maintenance issues that we have seen throughout our parks over the years without having the ability to really have the funds to invest in them,” he said.

The millage has paid for trail work in Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge and bathrooms and a kayak launch in Crandell Park in Charlotte, both part of the county parks system.

Augustine said that the millage was passed for 10 years and will run through 2032. At that point the board will evaluate whether to bring it back to voters.

“We want to make sure that we continue to invest in our parks,” Augustine said. “Eventually things fail and things have to be replaced.”

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