Berrien County Parks five-year plan met with community support at open house meeting

NOW: Berrien County Parks five-year plan met with community support at open house meeting

 NEW BUFFALO, Mich. -- Community members had their chance to weigh in on Berrien County Parks Five Year Plan at an open house style meeting Wednesday. 

The plan aims to improve the counties current 7 parks and improve walkability by adding the Red Arrow Linear Trail.  The plan was met with practically no criticism from the public today.

“I think it’s great for those of us who live here but also visitors to come more often,” Blagica Bottigliero said, who lives in New Buffalo.

The plan proposes improvements for seven parks, including county parks at Silver Beach, Love Creek and Paw Paw River. But what has residents most excited is the creation of something called the linear trail park which would connect Bridgman to New Buffalo.

“I think the linear trail is so important to the vitality of the county. We live in a society where it would be nice to walk more and ride our bikes and go from town to town and stop at the vineyards or the parks,” Bottigliero said.

Brian Bailey with Berrien County’s Park Department said this five year plan is needed now. Popular parks like Silver Beach in desperate need of new structures, like the almost three-decade old concession stand.

“It’s time to enhance that structure, like I said, our staff has increased, our beach population has increased, our law enforcement has increased, and our first aid needs have increased,” Bailey said.

As the plan nears its final stages, residents are eager to see the final result.

“To me living here is a little treasure, a little secret that more people are discovering so I think that this will help Southwest Michigan in more ways than we can imagine,” Bottigliero said.

A draft for the five year plan will be submitted in October. From there, the county will be applying for a number of different state grants to fund the plan. They’ll also be exploring possibly increasing taxes and county park fees.

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