By Lonnie Huhman,
When it comes to its second submission of a grant application that it hopes to use toward a new park, Scio Township is using the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed…”
At its March 12 meeting, the Scio Township Board unanimously approved a resolution to give the go-ahead on the submission of a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Grant application in the amount of $143,300.The township would give a local match through financial commitment and donations of $143,300 toward the total $286,600 project cost.
If approved, the grant would go toward the development of a 16.8-acre park and trailhead in the center of Scio Township, which is a top recreational priority identified by residents in the 2018-2022 PPPROS Master Plan and as recommended by the Parks Advisory Board.
The park is proposed to go on some land behind the township hall and fire station.
According to the township’s report on the grant application, the project will develop Scio’s first active-use park and consist of picnic pavilions, a playground structure, internal trails, an overlook on the 11-acre wetland crossing the eastern portion of the park, and new signage. It will also be a trailhead where visitors will be able to use newly constructed parking and new restroom facilities prior to accessing the Zeeb Road Pathway, an important link to the Border-to-Border and Iron Belle Trail.
Township manager Bryce Kelley said the township had submitted a smaller-scope project application a year ago, but it was not green-lighted. Kelley said the township’s application went up against some other community applications that may have had bigger plans.
He said with this second application the township almost doubled the scope of the plan and added such things as the playground, pathway and overlook area.
Kelley said the award will be announced in late 2019 or early 2020, and if awarded this will be a 2020-2022 project.
The township board also approved a year-extension of the contract with John Ichesco, who has been the township fire department’s fire director over the past year and has been providing professional guidance to the Scio Township Fire Department as the body undergoes a selection process for a new permanent chief and continues to assess the department’s overall organizational needs.
Noting the township still has work to do, such as finding a full-time fire chief and planning some modifications to the fire station, township supervisor Jack Knowles said the extension makes sense because the township needs to continue the momentum it’s established with the help from Ichesco.
Knowles said the township department has come far over the past year and there have been some good changes.
Township officials said during his time Ichesco has successfully completed various charges asked of him, such as designing a relevant and functional fire department leadership model/organization chart with implementation plan and adding three full-time firefighters.
The new contract is from April 2019 through March 31, 2020, and will pay $66,000.
Ichesco is a former city of Ypsilanti Fire Chief and the Chelsea Area Fire Authority Interim Chief. He served the city of Ypsilanti for 28 years beginning as a firefighter in 1984 and retiring as Fire Chief in December 2012. He served as a delegate on the Michigan Fire Service Coalition for seven years (2004 – 2012) and is former President of the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society (2004 – 2005) and the Michigan Joint Fire Service Council. He also served on a committee to reorganize the Michigan Fire Marshal’s office.
He also served as President of the Ypsilanti Firefighters’ Association for eight years and President of the Washtenaw One Hundred Club, an organization that supports active police officers and firefighters. He was a driving force behind the creation of the Washtenaw Memorial Park, which was dedicated to the memories of fallen police officers and firefighters in Washtenaw County. He has also served on the City of Ypsilanti’s Nuisance Abatement Team and Zoning Board of Appeals as well as the Washtenaw County Emergency Planning Commission.