Eight Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grants have been awarded to the City of East Lansing since 1995. MNRTF provides financial assistance to local governments to purchase land or rights to land for public recreation and/or environmental protection. It also assists in the appropriate development of land for public outdoor recreation. The grants awarded to the City of East Lansing have significantly contributed to the growth and enhancement of the City of East Lansing’s park system.
In 1995, the City of East Lansing was able to expand its park system by 22 % with the City's first MNRTF grant. The $795,000 grant, combined with a local match of $279,308 paved the way for the City’s acquisition of 91 acres of land for neighborhood and community recreation. The land acquisition allowed the City to establish the Northern Tier Trail, which is a 4.5-mile trail system that connects eight community parks, various recreational facilities and several neighborhoods.
In 1997, the City received its second MNRTF grant to construct a large portion of the Northern Tier Trail from Tower Avenue to Abbey Road. The City was awarded $375,000 by MNRTF and the City of East Lansing contributed a 25 % local match of $125,000.
In 2004, a MNRTF grant was awarded to construct a one-mile extension of the Northern Tier Trail from the East Lansing Soccer Complex to State Road.The City was awarded $92,400 by MNRTF and the City of East Lansing contributed a 34 % local match of $117,600.
In 2007, a MNRTF grant was awarded to make improvements to White Park. The improvements included paving of the existing parking lots, renovation of an existing softball field, installation of the City’s first interpretive nature trail and installation of a picnic pavilion. The City was awarded $225,000 by MNRTF and the City of East Lansing contributed a 25 % local match of $75,000.
In 2008, the City received a series of three MNRTF grants, including one to develop Hawk Nest Park and two to purchase additional property to expand and improve access to White Park. The development grant for Hawk Nest Park included $262,500 from MNRTF and a 25 % local match of $87,500 used to install a playground, picnic pavilion, Northern Tier Trail extension and a habitat diversity project at the park site. The two White Park expansion grants totaled $494,800 and the 25% local match of $164,885, was provided by the property owners through a reduction in purchase price. The grants funded a total acquisition of 4.68 acres of land for future pedestrian access to the north and a new park entry.
In 2012, a $300,000 MNRTF grant was received by the City to assist in funding the replacement of the large wooden play structure in Patriarche Park. The local match for the grant was provided through a community fundraising effort lead by the Rotary Club of East Lansing. Project features include a 10,000 square foot playground with poured in place surfacing, a rain garden to collect runoff from the site, concrete walkways and an entry plaza.
In the past 16 years, MNRTF has awarded more than $2.5 million to the City of East Lansing for its park system. Combined with local matches, nearly $4 million has been used to expand and improve recreational offerings for our patrons.