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by Katy Garavaglia
Monday, November 12, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cowall, Executive Director The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority 231-929-3696


TRAVERSE CITY – Residents have one final opportunity to shape the future of the Traverse City and Garfield Township Recreational Authority in a public workshop setting.
Members of the public are invited to the second of two public workshops to provide input on the future projects and priorities of the joint City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority. This open forum will be held on Wednesday, November 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park.

This successful partnership has existed since 2003 and the Authority 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.
Initial input has reaffirmed strong public support for the Authority and its properties. Both Hickory Meadows and Historic Barns Park have rich identities and committed user groups. But not all opinions have been the same: Although there is support for expanding the scope of the Authority, there is also a strong desire to ensure the Authority completes the projects already underway. Attendees at the first workshop also indicated that accessible and interconnected trails are a top community priority.
“Past public visioning efforts formed the core of the Authority’s current operations,” said Matt Cowall, executive director of the Authority. “Your input now will help make sure the Authority understands the ongoing recreational priorities of Traverse City and Garfield Township residents.”
According to Cowall, the purpose of the November 14 public workshop is three-fold: to educate community members about the Recreational Authority; to gather input on a series of alternatives; and to identify a feasible, preferred model for the Recreational Authority. This workshop will build on one held in October, where over 40 community members came and shared their input.
“If you have any interest in parks in our community, this is an important opportunity to make your voice count,” Cowall said.
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

ALTERNATIVE MEDIA CONTACT: Claire Karner Associate Planner Beckett & Raeder, Inc. 921 West 11th Street, Suite 2E Traverse City, MI 49684 231-649-1065