Nearly three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost two dozen of the hardest-hit Michigan communities are benefiting from $14,178,900 in Michigan Spark Grants funding – a significant boost toward creating, renovating, or redeveloping public recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. As a result, the village of Sebewaing applied for and secured a $1,000,000 grant.
Community Infrastructure Improvements Targeted
“Every Michigander in every community deserves access to the great outdoors to connect with nature, exercise, and spend time with friends and family,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “These Spark Grants will fund various public recreation projects across our state, including accessible trails at a Flint park, a rebuilt splash pad in Muskegon, and new bike racks, picnic tables, and benches at a park in Sault Ste. Marie.
“Under the bipartisan Building Michigan Together Plan that I signed last year, we made the largest one-time investment ever in our state and local parks,” Whitmer said. “Now, we’re delivering those resources to move dirt and make a real difference in people’s lives while supporting good-paying jobs along the way.”
Michigan Spark Grants, administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, offer the DNR a chance to reach people in communities whose economic opportunities and public health were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This reimagined approach activates historic support for projects that provide safe, accessible public recreation facilities and spaces to improve people’s health, introduce new recreation experiences, build on existing park infrastructure and make it easier for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Village of Sebewaing Among 462 Applicants That Applied For Grant
The Sebewaing Village Council asked the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a Michigan Spark Grant to get the money they needed to improve the park’s infrastructure. It was aimed at the wooden playscape structure, which is progressively disintegrating.
Director of Sebewaing Parks and Recreation Matt Bumhoffer stated, “The life expectancy of the playscape was 20 years, and we’re going on 22 years now.” in comments published by the Huron Daily Tribune.
Cost Avoidance with New Playscape
The play structure’s deteriorating state made it a safety hazard, so the village council prioritized it over other infrastructure upgrades that could be made with the funding. The playscape could end up hurting kids if it is allowed to continue to degrade. Long-term durability and safety would be improved with the use of metal and plastic. An updated playscape structure was placed in Cass City that looks to be of a similar design to that envisioned by Sebewaing.
With a new play structure, it would be unnecessary to do yearly maintenance on the current wood structure, and the expense of sealing the wood and laying artificial chips would be avoided if it were replaced with a metal and plastic construction. According to Bumhoffer, the overall annual savings would range from $4,000 to $5,000.
In addition, Bumhoffer wants to make the park universally accessible, which would go beyond the ADA’s requirements and improve accessibility for people with disabilities. The play structure’s protective rubber surface would take the place of the wood chips, and more ramps would be added.
100s of Communities Applied
In total, the DNR considered 462 applications requesting more than $280 million – figures that far exceeded what the department is used to. In contrast, the DNR’s top three recreation grant programs—the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Recreation Passport, and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund—usually get around 150 applications each year, asking for between $50 million and $60 million.
Other Thumb Communities Getting Grants
Other Michigan Thumb communities that received Spark Grant funds included the City of Marlette, which received $393,900 for Marlette Community Park Improvements. Lapeer County received $287,300 for the Polly Ann Trail, and the City of Lapeer is to receive $767,600 for improvements to the Linear Park Pathway Rehab – Rowden Park.
About the Village of Sebewaing
The Village of Sebewaing is a small community in Huron County, Michigan. It is situated on the shore of Sebewaing River and is known for its historical, cultural, and recreational attractions.
Sebewaing was originally settled in the late 18th century and was incorporated as a village in 1871. Throughout its history, it has been an important center for agriculture, commerce, and transportation. Today, it is a thriving community with around 1,500 people.
The village also has several parks, including Sebewaing Park and Waterfront Park, which offer scenic views and recreational opportunities, such as fishing, boating, and picnic areas. There is also a small marina for boaters to tie up their boats and enjoy the scenic views of the river and surrounding area.
Sebewaing is known for its close-knit community and a strong sense of tradition. It has many events throughout the year, such as the Michigan Sugar Festival, which celebrates the local sugar beet industry, and the Sebewaing Farmers’ Market, which sells locally grown food and handmade goods.
Overall, the Village of Sebewaing is a charming and friendly community that offers a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it an attractive destination for residents and visitors alike.