Traverse City Record-Eagle

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May 1, 2013

Grand Traverse board divided on Civic Center South funding

TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse County Commission approved a mid-year allocation of $25,000 for improvements at a south county park, but two board members voiced strong reservations.

Commission Chairman Herb Lemcool and Commissioner Sonny Wheelock voted against taking cash out of the county’s 2013 contingency fund for capital improvements at Civic Center South, located in Kingsley. Civic Center South backers frequently take funding requests to the full county board instead of going through the budget process that is followed by officials from other county parks and recreation programs, they said.

“I feel it should go through our parks and recreation budget,” Lemcool said during a recent committee meeting. “You should be vetting it through them, but also I have a problem with coming in at the middle of the year and asking for an appropriation.”

The contingency fund is comprised of $100,000 in the county’s general budget each year. Commissioners can vote to use the fund for emergencies, or any non-budgeted expenditures.

Civic Center South includes soccer fields, baseball diamonds, a disc golf course and an outdoor ice rink. It’s owned and managed by a board from Paradise, Mayfield and Fife Lake Townships, and Kingsley. Volunteers help maintain the park grounds.

County officials doled out more than $111,000 for capital improvements at the park since it opened in 2004. Former Kingsley Village Manager Adam Umbrasas asked county board members to renew a five-year pledge at $25,000 per year for future capital projects.

Plans to expand the park include building a driving range and additional sports fields on 20 acres recently donated to Civic Center South by a Kingsley family. Umbrasas estimated the cost of the improvements at $600,000, but he said that figure can be reduced through donations and volunteer contributions.

A former county commissioner joined Umbrasas in urging board members to approve the request.

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