By Max Benoit
Entirely East Lansing
The East Lansing City Council and East Lansing School Board met on March 21 to start discussions on future possibilities of shared services involving the parks and recreation department.
“What we talked about this evening is some of the shared services that do exist and we are looking at ideas that we could possibly expand on,” said Tim McCaffrey, who is the director of parks and recreation in the city of East Lansing.
Part of the discussion between the school board and city council revolved around looking into opportunities that exist for shared services that would expand on the current relationships.
“The city built the soccer complex. Part of the relationship now is that there is no cost associated with the use for the soccer complex for the high school soccer program,” said McCaffrey. ““Another one is an agreement that we have for the provision of school age child care in the elementary schools. The city does before and after school child care in all of the districts elementary schools.”
Both of these agreements are a part of a joint recreation zone agreement that the East Lansing school system did in the 1990s. McCaffrey said that after a thorough review, the school and the city might be interested in a taxing authority of some sort. He said that probably will not happen in the near future.
“A program of that nature or authority, as I understand the conversation tonight, may be a couple years down the road,” said McCaffrey. “Maybe two or three years off before voters are even asked the question.”
The meeting also discussed possibilities to reinvest into current facilities to make them better. Like the East Lansing Family Aquatic Center and the two trail systems in East Lansing.
“I know the city has, in our five year parks and recreation plan as well as the city’s comprehensive plan, we’ve identified between $6 million and $12 million of capital reinvestment needs that we’ve got in existing facilities,” said McCaffrey.
East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said during the meeting that the city’s government and school system have had a history of cooperating on shared services, so it could be seen in the future.
“Anything that we can do to start to stimulate the conversation with respect to making sure we protect the infrastructure that we’ve invested so heavily in about 15 years ago,” said McCaffrey.