Residents voice concerns about proposed changes to park - WNEM TV 5

Residents voice concerns about proposed changes to park

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Potential changes are in the works for a Mid-Michigan park and its landscape.

The Bay City Downtown Development Authority is proposing to build a grand pavilion and an ice skating rink at Wenonah Park.

"Well, the pavilion would include restrooms and concession stands, but beyond that we're not sure yet. It's still conceptual design," said David Green, DDA chairman.

He said a private donation of $1 million would fund the project.

Jason Hanover works across the street from the park. He likes the idea of building a new pavilion there.

"I think a pavilion would be the perfect thing to help facilitate people coming out and spending time at the park," Hanover said.

The Bay City DDA is exploring different options for improving the park.

"We haven't had a public skating rink in the city for a very long time. When I was growing up, they would flood certain sections of the park and everyone would go and skate for free," said Lori DuFresne, with the planning commission board.

However, not everyone is excited about the possible changes. On Wednesday the public had the chance to voice their opinions about the proposal and many of them were not thrilled.

"I saw the drawing of the pavilion and it's just so big," said Julia Solva, resident.

Solva said she loves the trees in the park and the mix between nature and event space. She said a pavilion would ruin that.

"I love Wenonah Park the way it is now. I see the pavilion as too much clutter, so I'd like to see them move it to the other side of the bridge," Solva said.

Other residents said there needs to be more revision before the plan is finalized.

"I'm concerned. I'm concerned there hasn't been enough public input and the decisions that are about to be made will be influenced by a great big donation," said Andy Rodgers, resident.

Green said the plans aren't final. He said they've already made some adjustments to the proposal after hearing from residents.

He said if the plans come together it will not cost taxpayers a dime.

"By private donations. There wouldn't be any money for the pavilion from the city or from the Downtown Development Authority," Green said.

Part of those private funds come courtesy of the Nickless Family Charitable Foundation. During their lives Arthur and Helen, who are both Bay City residents, spent a lot of time at the park.

"You have to use it for a structure, a facility that would be located somewhere in Wenonah Park," Green said.

Steve Lockey, resident, wants the city to follow a plan it adopted 10 years ago for the park.

"We already have a 2006 master plan to put the concession stands and new bathrooms in to where the band shell is now. And that's what we should be doing," Lockey said.

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