Jessica Mathews /

The City of Howell is pursuing grant funding for major improvements at Scofield Park.

The City is seeking a DNR Spark Grant to complete what are said to be much-needed improvements to the park. Conceptual plans have been created for the two-phase project – much of which would make the park more universally accessible for the community. The park currently has a very low rating for accessibility and functionality, with no ADA bathrooms or accessible parking.

The first phase would include a paved entrance and paved parking for 104 spots, universal access to the beach, shoreline restoration, pathway and sidewalk improvements, improvements to the existing sand volleyball court, a universally accessible kayak/canoe launch, universal access to the pavilion rentals, and new accessible restroom and concession facilities.

It would also include some work in preparation for phase two 2 which would include a splash pad near the parking area and beach, an amphitheater on the hill, a livery for kayak and canoe rentals, and universal access playgrounds at two sites.

It was relayed at last week’s meeting that the City has a good shot at being awarded the grant. City Manager Erv Suida said the planned improvements are exciting but phase two is even more so. He noted a lot of input came from meetings held in conjunction with the parks and master planning process.

Council approved two resolutions that were required for the grant, which will be submitted early this coming week. The deadline is December 13th and the DNR was said to be looking to make a decision in mid-January.

The City is applying for the maximum grant request of $1 (m) million.

The new Michigan Spark Grants program is administered by the DNR. It’s a $65 million grant program to help local communities that want to create, renovate or redevelop public opportunities for residents and visitors. The grants “support projects that provide safe, accessible, public recreation facilities and spaces to improve people’s health, introduce new recreation experiences, build on existing park infrastructure and make it easier for people to enjoy both indoor and outdoor recreation”. The grant opportunity is possible because of the Building Michigan Together Plan, signed in March 2022, which included a historic infusion of federal funding in state and local parks.

The total project cost is $1.73 (m) million. Suida said that includes $314,000 in water main improvements from the tower and down the access drive that would feed the concession area and future splash pad. The City would utilize $400,000 in ARPA funds for the project.

Suida said they think it’s a good estimate for the work and they feel good about the grant, adding they’ve received a lot of support from several community members and groups, assisted living facilities and Pathways at LESA. He said they’ve got some big plans and neat programming and staff has been working extremely hard. SEMCOG was also said to have a large interest in seeing the project proceed.

Plans and detailed renderings can be viewed in the Council meeting packet. The link is provided.