$2.275M grant will let Washtenaw County buy 54 acres of Domino's Farms land for preservation
Washtenaw County will receive $2.275 million to purchase a 54-acre parcel of Domino’s Farms land to turn into a park.
The move was among a wave of $38 million in grant allocations signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder .
Statewide, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants announced Wednesday will support 99 recreation and land acquisition projects.
With a 25 percent local match from the county, an undeveloped, wooded parcel between Ford and Plymouth Roads in Ann Arbor Township will be purchased from DF Land Development through the county’s Natural Areas Preservation Program.
The parcel will connect trails at the city-owned Marshall Nature Area to the east with trails on the University of Michigan-owned Horner-McLaughlin Woods and the county's Raymond F. Goodrich Preserve to the north, creating about 270 acres of land with trails for public use, said Tom Freeman, NAPP coordinator.
The partnerships among the city, county and university will make the trail system a unique one, Freeman said.
Washtenaw County’s Parks and Recreation Commission has already approved the local match for the project of about $758,000.
After working out a project agreement with the state and providing appraisals of the property, the county will be able to go forward with the purchase. Freeman said he hopes the deal is sealed by the end of the year.
“This has been a property that a lot of people have been interested in for a long time,” Freeman said.
The cost of the 54-acre parcel is pricier than the county has paid to purchase much of the 1,850 acres in its NAPP program: About $56,000 per acre for the Domino’s Farms land versus the average of $10,000 per acre.
When the county submitted the grant application in spring 2011, the parcel was appraised at $3.2 million, said John Petz, director of real estate and public affairs for Domino’s Farms.
Because the 54-acre parcel is in a water and sewer district, its property value is higher, Petz said. Infrastructure surrounding the site is ready to accommodate any development on the property, Petz said.
Domino’s Farms filed a lawsuit after Ann Arbor Township officials refused in 2004 to rezone the property for the development called The Vistas, halting plans for the development of roughly 290 attached condominiums. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2011.
“We came into this relationship with the county because of that lawsuit,” Petz said. “There was a period of mediation, and this opportunity started to emerge and we were put in that direction.”
There are trails on the 54-acre parcel of Domino’s Farms land because of a natural western boundary it shares with the Marshall Nature Area.
“It’s a reasonable use for the property and speaks to a larger opportunity of having this whole interconnected larger preserve area,” Petz said.
The last piece of the interconnected system of parks is a 5-acre parcel between the Domino’s Farms property - which the county expects to purchase _ and the university’s Horner-McLaughlin Woods. Domino’s Farms has pledged to sell it to the county through its regular acquisition process in the NAPP program.
“We’d commence that when this parcel closes,” Petz said.
The 54-acre parcel is the second land purchase the county has made of Domino’s Farms property - the first of which was a 10-acre parcel to expand the Goodrich preserve.
The successful transaction paved the way for the collaboration between Domino’s Farms and the county to apply for the trust fund grant.
“It’s a county application but it was truly a partnership to get it to that point,” Petz said.
Other projects in Washtenaw County that received funding through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant allocations are:
- $3 million to the Recreation Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to buy 2,000 acres in southern Jackson and Washtenaw counties for a new River Raisin Recreation Area
- $300,000 to the City of Ann Arbor for renovations to the Gallup Park Livery, including barrier-free access to the building and docks, energy improvements, building updates and trail work
- $300,000 to the City of Ann Arbor for the Veterans Memorial Park Skate Park
- $300,000 to the City of Ypsilanti for renovations of the Rutherford Pool
- $289,400 to the City of Ypsilanti for the construction of a bridge over the river underneath of Michigan Avenue, and for a fishing pier
Courtesy of Washtenaw County Natural Areas Preservation Program
Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for AnnArbor.com. Reach her at (734) 623-2552, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.