HARBERT – After discussion on the pros and cons of accepting a land donation to the township by Alan Witt for a dedicated park space at the corner of Isobel and Berrien Streets in Union Pier during the September 9 meeting of the Chikaming Township Board, a motion to send the proposal to the Park Board for their review and recommendation received unanimous approval.
Acceptance of the undeveloped wooded parcel by the Park Board would lead to its inclusion in the township’s park system and subsequent funding for improvements and maintenance.
The donation would come with some stipulations that would have to be negotiated, and they were outlined in a letter Witt submitted to township supervisor David Bunte. Although Witt stated that he felt most of the proposed park space would remain wooded, he also requested the inclusion of some tables and easels conducive to artists and children coming there to draw or paint; a small area set aside for a “Bankshot Basketball” court to teach children about angles, shapes and colors; and a naming of the park something like “Wolf-Witt Park.”
Furthermore, Witt stated that he felt the land may be worth $300,000 - $400,000 as a charitable deduction, and the township would be liable for the costs of clearing some of the land, setting up tables and easels, and development of the space for “Bankshot Basketball.”
Bunte said the discussion was just a first step in the consideration of accepting the generous donation proposal by the family, but he went on to ask, “Are we as a government entity tied into what the property owner wants? I believe any restrictions or stipulations are up to negotiations between the township and the property owner.”
Trustee Rich Sullivan said that he wasn’t against the idea of acquirement, but he felt there would be some people against any plans that included thinning some of the trees there.
Clerk Paula Dudiak commented that she thought it was a great opportunity for the township to add more green space, but the Park Board members would have to give their approval because the land would ultimately be under their stewardship.
In another Sept. 9 matter, after a presentation by Sergeant Brandon Jones, a motion for the township to fund a matching grant of $14,000 through “Small Rural Tribal-BWC” over the course of five years that will enable the Chikaming Township Police Department to purchase seven new body worn cameras as well as Evidence Library Express was approved unanimously.
It was explained that the Evidence Library Express is a cloud-based evidence library developed to make the operations of police departments more efficient and effective.
Also on the agenda, it was announced that on Aug. 20 Forest Galanda tenderd his resignation in the position of Cemetery Sexton and Facilities Manager.
A motion to approve the hiring of Nathan Oman and his company, Advanced Property Management Services, to maintain township facilities and manage the cemetery program was approved unanimously.
The contractual agreement is for a term of two years.
There was also unanimous support for a motion to send proposed amendments to the township’s Zoning Ordinance to the Berrien County Planning Commission for their review and approval.
Trustee Bill Marske gave praise to the members of a committee that have been hard at work developing the amendments, and said he wanted to thank them for their dedication and contributions to the committee.
The other Board members concurred, and Bunte said, “I agree 1,000 percent. I can’t thank the committee members enough for all the work that has been put in on this to help steer the township in the right direction.”
There was also discussion on the development of a new “Library Services” contract.
The township has had a longstanding agreement with the libraries in Three Oaks, New Buffalo and Bridgman libraries that allows residents of Chikaming Township to use those facilities.
The current contract calls for the township to fund each of the three local libraries $10,300 annually, plus penal fines.
No action was taken, and it was noted that that the current contract automatically renews if no changes are deemed necessary.
Finally, Bunte highlighted an upcoming community event: On Friday, Sept. 24, 5 to 7 p.m. at the trailhead in Union Pier the public is invited to participate in a dedication ceremony and thank you event for The Pokagon Fund for that organization’s participation in and funding support for the recently completed Union Pier/Red Arrow Highway improvements project.