East Lansing may develop a new park, thanks to a city oversight.
As the Bailey Community Center transitions to a privately run senior living home, the city must make a new recreational area to satisfy Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources.
In 1990, the city of East Lansing accepted a “Protecting Michigan’s Future” bond fund from DNR. The grant gave the city $69,000 to restore damaged windows in part of Bailey Community Center.
As part of the agreement, East Lansing promised to keep the Bailey Community Center in permanent recreational use for the public. Now that the building is transitioning to a private senior housing community, the DNR has given the city two options: find new land in the city of value equal to or greater than the community center to convert to a public park that or pay back the appraisal value of Bailey, which is estimated to be $195,000.
So, the city is looking to convert the northeast corner of Abbot Road and Albert Avenue into a small “pocket park.” Assistant Director of Parks, Recreation and Arts Wendy Longpre said that the public space, valued at $376,000, would be the perfect location for a small public park because it filled a gap the city had in recreational spaces.
Converting the public space into a recreational area received unanimous support from the council, but DNR still has to approve the swap.
Longpre is optimistic.
The DNR has “tentatively accepted this,” said Longpre. “In an email, they said that this land looks like a viable option, so we don’t anticipate any problems.”
Longpre said that the situation should be reconciled by the end of the year depending on the speed of approval.
City Manager George Lahanas called the requirements a challenge but also a great opportunity to create something that benefits the community.
Councilmember Kathleen Boyle agreed with Lahanas calling the situation a “win, win” for the city.
“I’m certainly fully in support of the housing partnership plan going forward,” said Boyle, “and I think the corner of Albert and Abbot is a lovely green space in the downtown.”