2018-02-10 / News

Improvements Planned for Upcoming Year at Great Turtle Park

By Jacob A. Ball

Recreation Director Mary Patay expects to receive funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to replace the aging light fixtures that illuminate the Great Turtle Park softball diamond and the installation of new poles and light fixtures for the soccer field, which has never been lit. The renovations are slated to begin this fall. In addition, the city has funded new wood chips for the playground, new awnings for the pavilion, and an aerator and spreader to improve the quality of the soccer field.

Final approval of the lighting project will be given by the National Park Service.

The lighting system at the park is more than 30 years old. The new fixtures are a necessity, as the city is no longer able to purchase replacement incandescent bulbs. The installation of lights for the soccer field is expected to increase its functionality, as the lack of proper lighting constrains the timing of events and soccer games.

The proposed project includes the installation of four light poles and fixtures for the soccer field, and six fixtures around the softball diamond. Only one of the softball poles will be replaced as part of the project. Inspection of the current lighting system determined the other five light poles to be in proper working order. The new lights will be far more energy efficient and will save the city money over the long run. The grant, if approved, will allocate $81,700. The Mackinac Island Community Foundation awarded an additional $20,000 in December 2017.

The grant for the new lighting systems was approved by the DNR Thursday, January 11, but the Recreation Department must still wait for consent from the park service before the funding is secured. Dr. Patay resubmitted the request, after it was originally unsuccessful last spring. The project will also be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office.

Other Park Improvements

In the coming year, there will be several overdue renovations and repairs at Great Turtle Park, funded by the city and community foundation. The park was founded in the late 1970s when the softball diamond was erected on what used to be a Mackinac Island State Park dumpsite. Since then, it has become a centerpiece of the community, as the additions of a pavilion, a soccer field, toilets, and an information booth have transformed the space. Maintaining the park as an inviting and usable space is primarily the responsibility of the Recreation Department.

The park has a backlog of maintenance and renovation work. A new layer of wood chips is supposed to be laid down every two to three years, but it has been about a decade since this was last attended to. Wood chips for public playgrounds are required to meet certain standards, and wood chippings from landscaping or brush clearing on Mackinac Island does not qualify for this use.

Wood chips must be safe, free of toxins, and must be the type to allow wheelchair access. The wood chips are intended to be one-foot thick, and a full truckload, 130 cubic yards, was purchased to fill in the space caused by the compression of the older mulch. The price of the new wood chips is $19 per cubic yard, plus a $400 delivery fee for a total of roughly $3,000. The request was approved by the Finance Committee and City Council. The new layer will be laid down in the spring, and the wood chips, now frozen, have already been delivered to the park.

The weathered vinyl awnings at the pavilion will be replaced, paid for by the city and a $2,500 grant from the Mackinac Island Community Foundation. The current awnings have become brittle and begun to crack after several years outside in the winter. The new awnings will be stronger with a large frame of thicker plastic. They will be installed as 12 separate pieces that can be rolled to the top of the entryways for storage. They are commonly used during winter events including the Winter Festival, and occasionally in the summer. The total cost of the replacement awnings will be $5,150, and they will be fabricated and installed by Harbor Awning of Harbor Springs in April.

A new aerator and spreader has been purchased through the Maintenance Department to improve the surface of the soccer field at Great Turtle Park. The field has hardened and rippled from a lack of upkeep that is noticeable when walking across.

The total cost of the equipment was $3,314, and the Community Foundation granted $3,025 toward the purchase.

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