Since 1995, 11 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grants have been awarded to the City of East Lansing, totaling more than $3.1 million. 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 2016, a $50,000 MNRTF grant was received by the City to assist in funding improvements to the baseball fields at Patriarche Park. The project's 58 percent local match of $70,000 will be fulfilled with Fiscal Year 2020 income tax revenue. Project features include renovation of the existing baseball fields, field accessibility improvements, a fence removal and more.
In 2017, a $300,000 MNRTF grant was received by the City to assist in funding the White Park Trail Extension & Natural Features Project. The City also received $469,000 in Ingham County Trails and Parks Millage funding for the project. Project features include an extension of the Northern Tier Trail through Albert A. White Memorial Park and improvements to the park's natural areas.
In 2018, a $219,000 MNRTF grant was received by the City to assist in funding the Bailey Park Improvement Project. The project's 26 percent local match includes $35,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, $25,000 from the Capital Area Housing Partnership and $16,000 raised by the Bailey Community Association. Project features include a new play structure, construction of a new concrete plaza, a fence removal, installation of a 10-foot concrete pathway around the park and more.