What would you do to improve recreational opportunities in the Charlotte area if you had 22 acres of land? The Charlotte Area Recreation Cooperative wants to hear your ideas and will turn a listening ear toward participants at a visioning session scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at Eaton Township hall.
The Rec. Co-op, which consists of members from the City of Charlotte and Carmel and Eaton townships, is seeking use from the City of Charlotte’s Land Development Finance Authority (LDFA) of a 22-acre parcel that resides within the Samuel L. Combs Industrial Park. The parcel is located adjacent to and north of what is considered the main portion of the industrial park, said City Manager Gregg Guetschow. It is undeveloped and has been used primarily as farmland since city acquired it in the early 2000s.
“This is a very fluid situation, but we wanted to move ahead,” said Dave Bankhead, chair of the Rec Co-op. “This idea has really gained some ground in the last few weeks.”
Bankhead said the Co-op has looked for areas in which to construct softball diamonds for the last few years and had taken a step towards the development of one diamond last year when it purchased land, located behind Dunhams and Peebles, from Eaton Twp. The 5.5-acre parcel, however, is fairly restrictive to the Co-op’s plans, Bankhead said.
Guetschow said the City of Charlotte has also been on the lookout for land in which the Rec Co-op could develop additional softball fields.
“We looked everywhere we could to find a site that would allow a couple diamonds and room for possible expansion,” Guetschow said. “This site is the best we came up with. If it were ever developed, it would likely be the last parcel in the park. In the meantime, there is a need for a softball facility. Using a piece of idle land seems to make a lot of sense.”
The parcel would most likely be leased to the Rec Co-op, though details are still in the early stages. Guetschow said a majority of LDFA members are in favor of leasing the land at this point.
Bankhead said the Rec Co-op is working on a grant application through the State of Michigan to supply funding necessary to develop the fields. He said the facility will be available for public use, but identified the Charlotte Junior Orioles softball program as one that desperately needs more fields.
The Charlotte Area Recreation Cooperative, established more than five years ago by the City of Charlotte, Eaton and Carmel townships, was created to establish or enhance recreational facilities for local youth. It has helped build the ice rink in Charlotte, helped refurbish tennis courts, helped AYSO secure funding to rent soccer fields and partners with AL!VE to help build walking trails.
Bankhead said information garnered from the visioning session will help the Cooperative put together a rough plan for the proposed facility, which will be outlined during a March 12 public hearing at Eaton Township hall.