December 20, 2014

AuGres Council discusses city park

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
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AuGRES — Councilman Cliff Warr proposed that the AuGres City Council look at ways to make the city’s park more attractive to visitors during its council meeting on May 1.

Warr said the park, located along the AuGres River front, could be a great way to get more people visiting the city, which could help the local economy.

“We should find better ways to make it work, and be a better attraction for the city,” Warr said. “It’s a very attractable park, and it’s right on the river.”

Mayor LaVern Dittenber agreed, calling it a “hidden asset,” and added that his children, who have since moved to other parts of the state, still speak highly of it.

“They say it’s the best park in the state as far as they’re concerned,” Dittenber said. “I don’t know why it’s not used more than it is.”

City Manager Pat Killingbeck said the problems facing the park run deep, however, blamed the economy for driving down tourist traffic.

She said the rates for the boat launch and the 109 campsites haven’t changed at the city’s park for 10 years, and the city advertises the park through Pure Michigan, the Heritage Route, and in the city itself.

“You guys have to remember the economy is down, and people are traveling less,” Killingbeck said. “I think if we look into it, we’ll see that traffic is down all over.”

She also said the state is making it more difficult to compete, due to its proliferation of state park passes. Killingbeck also blamed the Department of Natural Resources for the poor perch fishing in the area, which she said has caused the city to lose some of its angler traffic.

“The DNR mucked up the fishing, and now the perch are gone,” Killingbeck said. “The east side of the state just gets ignored by state programs.”

Warr proposed the council look into adding something like a miniature golf course to the former Funland property, to try and get visitors to stay in the city “for a day.”

No decision on adjusting park advertising was decided at the meeting.

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