Ingham County terminates Hawk Island Park contract, applies for zoo park grant

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By Kyle Koehler
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

The Ingham parks commission voted to terminate its contract with Superparks, the company currently running the daily operations of Hawk Island Snow Park.

Willis Bennett, director of the parks office, said that the termination came after a “culmination of unacceptable behavior from the contractor.”

Bennett said he sent a list of issues to Superparks, but received no answer. Issues included park maintenance and visitation rates, which have been declining, reducing revenue.

After two years of operation with Superparks, Bennett advised that “now is the time to end this relationship.”

Bennett said that the contract with Superparks will be terminated 90 days after the county makes its decision official. After which, Ingham County “doesn’t have the skills to groom (the park) properly,” Bennett said, adding that the county would have to buy all the railing and equipment used at the park, since Superparks is renting all of it.

County Commissioner Penelope Tsernoglou recommended looking at other contractors to keep the park in operation rather than shutting it down.

Ralph Monsma agreed, saying “Sounds like we really do need someone else to run the park.”

Potter Park Playground

The parks commissioned voted unanimously to send a grant application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund for an accessible playground at Potter Park Zoo.

The idea for the park started in 2008, Bennett said, when the parks commission was still in charge of the zoo. “I was committed to it then, and want to make sure it happens,” he said.

The park will include a “totally accessible” play structure across from the park. Currently, the commission has raised $70,000, and is asking the DNR to match its funds.

After the playground is built, landscaped structures will be constructed in honor of generous donors, Bennett said.

John Czarnecki, member of the parks commission board, said that before the playground is built, the zoo staff would need to maintain the park area better, because it’s not “up to snuff.”

“The zoo staff should have more concerns with the landscaping,” Czarnecki said, adding that this playground would be a “nice entrance to the zoo” if it was well-maintained.

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