BESSEMER TOWNSHIP - A handful of people came to an informal open house at the township hall in Ramsay on Tuesday to provide their input on how the Bessemer Township Board should spend money on recreation.
The board is planning to create a parks and recreation plan and submit it with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources so that the township can eventually seek grant funding for the project.
"The next step will be continue to collect surveys," said township supervisor Jeff Randall. "Then, through the surveys start putting together a list of what we would like to see done, as far as a plan, kind of trying to project five years out what we would envision Bessemer Township to be."
The board would then write the plan and hold public hearings along the way before submitting it to the DNR for approval, Randall said.
"And this isn't even the grant writing," he said. "This is just, hey here's our dream list of what we want to do and in the future we might apply for grants for this. And that becomes a whole separate issue for each one of those projects we list out as a possibility."
The township board created a survey questionnaire that asked questions on various topics, such as whether there were adequate recreational programs and facilities in the township, and if residents would pay additional taxes or higher participant fees to fund and maintain parks and facilities.
The questionnaire also surveyed public opinion on whether new outdoor recreation facilities or programs should be implemented.
Residents at the open house discussed several ideas such as improving the trail systems, using township property between Anvil and Ramsay roads – south of U.S. 2 – that could be used as a sledding hill, and a dog park where owners can bring pets to run freely.
One idea that created conversation was replacing the dam that was located on the Black River in Ramsay.
According to the DNR, the dam washed out in 2002, and was then completely removed later that year. Members of the township later wanted the dam brought back but DNR officials said the dam couldn't be replaced because the river is a designated trout stream and north of the area, downstream, is a scenic and wild river.
But Randall said if that is what people want they should put it on the survey to give township officials some direction.
"There's been many ideas put forward, it's just a matter of how interested is the public really in some of these ideas," Randall said. "If no one wants them it's not worth wasting the money for them, but if people want them and would use them, then we should do it."
For those unable to attend the open house, surveys can be found at the township hall, or under the "Forms" link on the township's website, bessemertownship.org.
Online surveys must be printed and returned to the township hall.