East Lansing’s downtown “No Name Park”—sometimes called the “Faces and Fountains Park”—is not currently an official park of the City of East Lansing. In fact, the small green space, used for festivals and informal gatherings, has long been listed as a “redevelopment ready” property in City documents. But all that may change next week when City Council votes on whether to pursue a plan to officially convert the small green space at the northeast corner of Albert Avenue and Abbot Road to a City park.
At City Council tonight, staff explained the historical background of this plan. In 1990, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave East Lansing a grant of $69,000 to replace the windows on the Bailey Community Center. According to a staff memo on the matter, “In accepting the grant, the City agreed to permanently encumber the Community Center and surrounding park for recreation use.” In other words, in exchange for the $69,000 from the DNR, the City had to promise to keep the area permanently for use as recreational space.
With the Bailey Community Center set to be repurposed under the plan from the Capital Area Housing Partnership (CAHP), the City has to do something about that 1990 agreement with the DNR. This meant having to find a new space to dedicate permanently to recreation, a space of equal or higher value.
Appraisals recently conducted put the value of the Bailey encumbered land at $195,000 and the value of No Name Park at $376,000. Last month, the City submitted a formal request to the DNR to convert the encumbrance from Bailey to No Name Park. The City also published public notices to prepare for a public hearing and vote for Council next week, on October 20.
Following a detailed presentation on the matter tonight by Parks and Rec Assistant Director Wendy Wilmers-Longpre, City Manager George Lahanas enthusiastically told Council that this plan meant the City was “essentially gaining a park.”
Mayor Pro Tem Diane Goddeeris asked what the property owners next door would think of the plan. Wilmers-Longpre said they were not personally notified of the plan, but could be if Council wished.
City Planning Director Tim Dempsey said the conversion to an official park would not interfere with the zoning-related property rights currently enjoyed by owners of adjacent land. In fact, Dempsey said, “from staff’s perspective,” the conversion “enhances development opportunities” in the area “because you can play off” of the green space. He noted the use of the park-side patio by Black Cat Bistro as an example.
Councilmember Susan Woods suggested a contest to name the park. Lahanas said that a naming committee would make a recommendation on a name, but that citizens could be asked to submit ideas.
For a follow-up on the naming of the park, click here.
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