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Novi wins state funding to develop city's 12th park

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Novi residents may have a new place to enjoy outdoor activities as early as this spring.

City officials have won funding from the state's Natural Resource Trust Fund for a new city park on 12 Mile east of Napier.

The 10 acres of land the city bought will be named the Northwest Neighborhood Park and will have picnic shelters and play structures.

Resident Jeremie Kirksey sees the new outdoor area as more of a benefit to children than adults.

"There are plenty of bars and places to hang for adults, but children's activities are limited to gaming systems or even worse, neighborhood mischief," Kirksey said. "Kids should have a place they can go to without feeling they have to hang around Fountain Walk."

Novi has 11 parks that include a dog park, nature hiking trails and a community sports park, but none is in the western region of the city.

"More people are moving toward west of the suburbs and there is nothing in that area or parks that are close by," state Rep. Kathy Crawford, R-Novi said. Crawford sponsored the bill in the House for $385,000 in state funding toward the $481,250 cost of the land and basic park structures.

"Economic development studies show that parks appeal to more people. Residents like to have somewhere to go to enjoy and take their family."

The bill has passed the state House and Senate and is awaiting approval by Gov. Rick Snyder.

With the city's population increasing by 5 percent in the past five years to 57,960 residents, according to the Census bureau, many businesses including the Cheesecake Factory and Hobby Lobby have also recently opened in the suburb.

Novi Mayor Bob Gatt hopes the purchase of the parkland will be enjoyed by the new business members and help bring more people to the community.

"We are fortunate to have state partners who recognize the vital role such acquisitions play in continuing to place Novi on the map when it comes to providing a high quality of life," Gatt said.

Each year the Natural Resource Trust Fund sets aside $15 million to $20 million for development projects. To qualify, municipalities must pass 10 criteria and provide 25 percent of a project's cost.

Jeffrey Muck, Parks and Recreation and Cultural Services Director for Novi, said the trust fund money helps preserve the city.

"The fund builds upon the treasure that is Novi's parks, opens spaces and recreation programming in order to meet the needs of current citizens and future generations," he said.

In the past 10 years, Novi has been awarded three trust fund grants, which helped the city to acquire more than 323 acres of parkland.

"I couldn't imagine not voting to pass this bill," Rep. Crawford said. "I feel that it is essential to the community."

ksmith3@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-1855