By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.— On Monday night the township board of trustees voted 5-0, following a closed session meeting, to approve a resolution to contribute a match of 26 percent for the acquisition of property for the expansion of the Atlas Park with Genesee County.
The match will be up to $104,000 for a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for the new property. There will be no other costs for the township, if the grant is approved, it will be dispersed in the 2023 budget year.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve the open space and wetland to enhance the township for residents,” said Shirley Kautman-Jones, township supervisor.
The consideration and grant is for approximately 50 acres of property that will adjoin the current Atlas County Park, 9139 Hegel Road. The proposed property will include access to Gale Road and add about 325 feet of frontage to the existing 1,200 feet on the Atlas Mill Pond.
Barry June, township trustee and Genesee County Parks director said a mid-cycle MNRTF grant, that if approved, would be awarded early next year has been submitted. The NRTF was established exclusively for acquisition and development of public land, and funding comes from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights. When the NRTF was voted into the Michigan Constitution in 1984 it was to be used for conservation, resource protection, public outdoor recreation and to develop outdoor recreation facilities such as the Atlas Township property.
“The owners of the property have expressed interest in selling,” said June. “These properties do not come available for sale very often, it’s a great opportunity. The land is centrally located, near populated areas and is near the Goodrich Pathway along with the Iron Belle Trail on Gale Road.”
The Atlas County Park averaged 62 patrons per day in 2021 and currently attracts about 35 per day with higher numbers on weekdays, he said. No firm price has been set for the proposed park addition, an appraisal is forthcoming.
By David Fleet