Coalition of Organizations Launches $700,000 Effort to Increase Access to Recreation

Posted on May 17, 2007

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has joined a large coalition of organizations throughout St. Clair County in a bid to secure a $330,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek.

The grant request to the Kellogg Foundation is an effort to secure funding through that Foundation’s Access to Recreation Program. The Access to Recreation Program is a three-year, multi-million dollar initiative with a goal of creating universal access to recreation for all people, of all abilities.

The effort in St. Clair County is a joint project of the following organizations:

  • St. Clair County Parks & Recreation Commission
  • Downriver Recreation Commission
  • Regional Educational Service Agency
  • City of Algonac
  • Blue Water Center for Independent Living
  • St. Clair DDA
  • Charter Township of East China
  • Freedom Kayaks
  • Port Huron Parks & Recreation
  • Community Foundation of SCC

According to Mark Brochu, director of St. Clair County Parks and Recreation, a small group of organizations began discussing the grant opportunity late last year. The group expanded early this year as the potential scope of the county-wide initiative expanded. The grant application was submitted by the Community Foundation on April 27th.

According to Brochu, the grant request includes support for the following key projects:

  • The first handicap accessible public treehouse in Michigan, to be built by RESA at the Pine River Nature Center
  • Improvements to the public pool in Algonac and the implementation of new kayak and canoe safety programs in partnership with Freedom Kayaks
  • New canoe and kayak launch sites at the East China Township Park and the new Columbus County Park
  • Accessible boat docks in the rebuilt St. Clair boat harbor on the Pine River
  • New beach chairs for public beaches in Port Huron
  • A new endowment fund at the Community Foundation to support future access related projects

As a part of the grant application the coalition partners will need to raise matching funds of almost $300,000 to complete all of the projects as planned. Included in that amount is $90,000 towards the endowment fund match. Terms of the grant, if awarded, will require that the projects be completed by April, 2009.

The coalition decided to announce the projects now, even though they may not receive the funding from the Kellogg Foundation. “The issues and challenges of accessible recreation won’t go away,” said Brochu. “So, regardless of whether or not we get the grant, our collective organizations feel that access to recreation for people of all abilities needs to be a priority in St. Clair County.”

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