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by Katy Garavaglia
Wednesday, October 10, 2018


Matt Cowall, Executive Director
The City of Traverse City and Charter
Township of Garfield Recreational Authority


Tuesday, October 2, 2018 


Results of the workshop will help shape the future of the joint Traverse City and Garfield Township park authority.

TRAVERSE CITY – Members of the public can provide input on the future projects and priorities of the joint City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority at an open forum on Wednesday, October 10 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park.

This successful partnership has existed since 2003 and owns and manages three public properties within the two jurisdictions. These properties include Hickory Meadows, Historic Barns Park, and a small half-acre parcel on West Grand Traverse Bay in the city’s downtown.

The purpose of the October 10 public workshop is three-fold—to educate community members about the Recreational Authority; to better understand values related to recreation in the city and township; and to identify possible projects and initiatives for the Authority to undertake in the future.

“This is an opportunity for citizens to take stock of the Recreational Authority and its work to date, and to make sure that its marching orders for the future are in synch with the desires and needs of the community,” said Matt Cowall, executive director of the Authority. “We hope for a big turnout and a lot of feedback.”

Survey input from over 600 individuals will be unveiled at the workshop. After a short presentation, workshop attendees will have the opportunity to provide feedback on projects and priorities at the three existing properties as well as the community as a whole.

A second public workshop will take place on Wednesday, November 14, also from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Cathedral Barn. This session will build on the first workshop with breakout sessions that focus on specific projects to develop a preferred model for the Recreational Authority.

In addition to the two public workshops, the Recreational Authority has been gathering input through park user surveys, a community-wide online survey, stakeholder interviews, and a series of focus group discussions with stakeholders and community leaders. The Authority plans to use the broad public input to inform a future millage renewal before 2024, when the Authority’s current funding expires.


In 2003, The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority was formed under Michigan’s Recreational Authorities Act. The following year, voters overwhelmingly approved a bond request to allow the Authority to acquire and preserve three culturally, environmentally, and historically relevant pieces of property for public use, including Hickory Meadows, Historic Barns Park, and part of the Open Space on West Grand Traverse Bay.

Over the past 14 years, the Authority has enjoyed enormous success in renovating Historic Barns Park, cultivating partnerships with community groups using its properties, and managing these properties for public use and enjoyment. However, opportunity still remains for continual improvements to better serve the public. Besides its regular monthly public board meetings, the Authority has not conducted a large, concentrated public input effort since 2007. Learn more about the Authority and this exciting project at 


Claire Karner
Associate Planner
Beckett & Raeder, Inc.
921 West 11th Street, Suite 2E
Traverse City, MI 49684