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Cass County commissioners approve five-year parks plan

CASSOPOLIS — The future of Cass County is looking green.

Following a public hearing Thursday evening, the Cass County Board of Commissioners approved the Cass County Parks Department’s five-year parks, recreation and greenway plan. The 91-page document will provide a five-year framework for decisions regarding establishing, developing and maintaining recreational programs and facilities. As part of the planning process, Cass County Parks and Recreation Department gathered public input through an online survey. Approval of the plan allows Cass County to be eligible to pursue grant funding provided by the Department of Natural Resources.

“This is certainly an exciting time within the Cass County parks. We have a lot of momentum,” said Parks Director Scott Wyman. “I think pandemic has reminded us just how important parks and recreation is to the quality of life of our citizens and our community.”

A summary of the plan laid out nine goals for the Cass County Parks Department:

• Establish stable and secure funding to improve and maintain county parks and recreation
programs.

• Create and implement a marketing campaign to promote Cass County as a recreation destination for residents and visitors.

• Provide barrier‐free accessibility to existing and future
facilities.

• Develop and support policies that will preserve and protect valuable water and land resources.

• Support and promote policies that will preserve and protect properties with historical and/or cultural value.

• Seek and establish connections between existing and future trails and pathways, including greenways and blueways.

• Respond to changing demographics when planning future recreational facilities and programs.

• Enhance the positive working relationship with local and regional partnerships, including the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, to maximize the benefits of coordinated programs
and facilities.

• Develop and implement an action plan in response to the identified needs of Cass County residents and those who participated in the planning process.

During the public hearing, Wyman thanked everyone who worked on the five-year plan, which he said will enhance county parks by building off the momentum of the county’s Dark Sky initiative and working on projects the community has indicated important.

“When we were doing our surveys, we found it really was the simple, core things that were important — restrooms, hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas,” Wyman said. “We are really excited for the future of Cass County parks.”

Also Thursday:

• The board approved a $58,646 contract with Western Michigan University Homer Stryker Medical School for medical examiner services.

• The board approved the purchase of an unmarked vehicle for the Cass County Sheriff’s Department to replace a 2012 model. Sheriff Richard Behnke reported in a letter to the board that the unmarked vehicle would be used by plain-clothes personnel. The vehicle will cost $32,135 and will be paid for out of the motor pool fund.

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