On July 1, Washtenaw County was officially awarded a $15 million enhancement grant through the state of Michigan’s 2023-24 General Omnibus Budget
to support development of a community and recreation center on the eastern side of the county.
This enhancement grant, $7 million allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act
(ARPA) by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, and a $3 million Community Project Fund grant
will all go toward the project’s expected $30 million budget.
Washtenaw County Public Information Officer Crystal Campbell states that the board of commissioners is "seeking to develop a community center that takes a holistic approach to recreation" that is both accessible and affordable to the eastern region of the county.
"This is really indicative of how dedicated our board of commissioners is to making this come true for our residents," Campbell says. "This is a legacy project with a lot of opportunity for future development."
The project concept was initially proposed after community surveys completed by Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation
showed that residents expressed a strong need for more recreational spaces, as well as the formation of a community center advisory committee by a group of concerned citizens in Superior Township. However, Campbell says development was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"COVID interrupted the process, but highlighted other community needs as well," she says. "It highlighted the disparities in social determinants of health, and we were able to reevaluate where a community center could best serve our residents."
The board hopes to place the center at 1500 Stamford Rd., where the former Cheney Elementary School currently stands. The property straddles Ypsilanti and Superior townships, and Campbell says conversations with Ypsilanti Community Schools
are in order to secure the location. The county is partnering with other organizations as well to ensure the center provides adequate services.
"The community is bringing up very important points regarding concepts, and we’re taking all of that into account," Campbell says. "We did a series of focus groups earlier this year with Ann Arbor YMCA board members, local faith leaders, municipal partners, and stakeholders, as well as general community members."
Suggested future amenities at the center include programming for all ages, affordable child care, and a flexible space for various community events, in addition to state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor recreational and exercise equipment.
Although the project is still currently in the planning stages and has no completion date as of yet, Campbell says she and the board hope to "see shovels in the ground" by the end of this year.
"When things get moving, they will move very quickly," she says. "We’re doing our due diligence, and we’re really excited to see the process move forward."
For more information regarding the project, interested residents can attend community center advisory committee meetings, which take place on the first Thursday of each month at Christian Love Fellowship Church at 1601 Stamford Rd. Residents may also contact their county commissioner directly
"We are committed to bringing this center to fruition," Campbell says. "The community deserves this."
Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
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