Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

2021 will herald in even more beauty to the scenic Lake Alliance Park in Potterville, thanks to a generous grant received from Canadian National Railroad’s From the Ground Up program in collaboration with America in Bloom, an organization with programs that are focused on improving the overall quality of life in communities.
“Communities are more welcoming and vibrant with colorful plants and trees in clean environments” is the vision of America in Bloom.
The $25,000 grant will be used to improve the landscaping and to beautify an area that is in heavy use by the community at Lake Alliance. It is home to one of the best softball/baseball complexes in the area, plus a playground, picnic area, fishing, trails, a disc golf course, and the 24-acre lake.
“Grants like this are very competitive, so to be awarded this grant is really a great accomplishment,” said Tiffani Schaner, Potterville Parks and Recreation Director who wrote the grant.
The project will take place along the shared boundary of the Lake Alliance Park and the Canadian National Railroad, stretching from the Vermontville Highway corridor to Lake Alliance Park.
“It’s a stretch of land that is overgrown and less appealing to the eye,” explained Schaner.
“The funds offered by the Canadian National Railroad and America in Bloom will help tremendously towards installing new professional landscaping to enhance the look and feel of our public parks,” Potterville City Manager Aaron Sheridan said.
This project will coincide with the Natural Shoreline Project on the southwest corner of Lake Alliance which was installed last year. That project established a boulder “pier” and placed plants native to the area at the shoreline to prevent erosion, and to keep the water clean.
The grant does require a $2,000 monetary grant from the Potterville Tax Increment Financing Authority (TIFA). TIFA is a public financing method that can be used for redevelopment and community improvement by providing funds needed for public projects that might otherwise be unaffordable for the community. Both the Potterville City Council and TIFA need to review and approve the grant before it is officially accepted.
The grant also requires in-kind contributions from the City Parks and the Department of Public Works, totaling $10,500 in labor and equipment. The grant will award $12,500 in cash reimbursements for professional landscapers to renovate and develop the project area once the land is cleared by city resources.
The trees to be planted, most of which are colorful flowering varieties, will follow the walking trail which leads into Lake Alliance Park, providing a welcoming and beautiful nature path for the public. Magnolia, Redbud, and crabapple are some of the trees that will be planted. Various varieties of flowers will be planted, also.
The grant met the criteria to be successful, which includes providing community impact and engagement, sustainability goals, technical assurances, and for the project to be in alignment with the program objectives.
“We hope to see the project start in the spring, and it will be completed by the end of the year,” Schaner said. “We also hope to get various groups, like the schools, local businesses, and the Chamber to join in and help us make it all happen.”
“It accomplishes one of the goals in the City’s strategic plans by obtaining this type of funding with minimal matching funds required,” Sheridan said.
“This project will provide the Potterville Community with an educational opportunity and will encourage a healthy lifestyle. It will boost pride in the community and will promote economic vitality,” said Schaner. “It will also contribute to the ecosystem with air and water quality improvements.”
When the project is complete, there will be a celebratory event which will be attended by Canadian National Railroad and America in Bloom representatives.
For more information about this project, contact Tiffani Schaner, Potterville Parks and Recreation Director at 517-645-7641.