Mark McClendon, Chairperson
Dana Getman, Chairperson
Office: 269-427-5611 x 309
South Haven Area Recreational Park (SHARP)
RECOGNITION OF COMMUNITY NEED
South Haven is a unique community that prides itself on its many diverse recreational opportunities, available for residents and visitors to the area. The greater South Haven region understands that healthy communities result from quality recreational programs for both children and adults.
A group of coaches, parents and community leaders introduced a concept for a consolidated regional recreational park that would accommodate the needs of a rapidly growing region. These individuals understood the personal, social and economic benefits that a quality regional recreational park would provide to our area.
Resulting from their passion to see that these issues were addressed, they created the South Haven Area Regional Park Committee (SHARP):
The SHARP committee first convened in 2002 and determined there was a need to:
The SHARP committee is proposing a conveniently-located 96-acre site that will feature several baseball/softball diamonds, soccer fields, a football field, tennis courts, concessions, playground structures for young children, restrooms and appropriate parking. The park will also feature a well-landscaped non-motorized pedestrian friendly path that will serve walkers, joggers, and in-line skating during warmer weather and cross-country skiers in the winter,
This site was chosen because of the convenient location, topography of the land (for easier constructability), and potential for further expansion. The committee also recognized that this land provides a unique opportunity to preserve open space for the greater South Haven community. Although the park will have an emphasis on sports recreation, plans also include maintaining natural landscaping, existing ponds, and other features for rest, relaxation and contemplation.
JANUARY 31, 2011: SHARP CONCEPTUAL PLAN AND FEASIBILITY STUDY
AUGUST 11, 2010: SHARP PROJECT RECEIVES ENGINEERING DONATION
In early 2010, Mayor Robert Burr announced a major donation for the South Haven Area Regional Park (SHARP.) Mayor Burr informed the City Council and the overall community that SHARP has received a donation of engineering and design assistance from The Brickman Group - one of the nation's largest commercial landscape maintenance firms.
It is estimated that the engineering donation is valued between $70,000 and $80,000. Mayor Burr and SHARP committee members estimated that an initial technical master plan would likely be completed by fall of 2010. The plan will provide a phased development of the site that coincides with SHARP’s fundraising abilities. The master plan will include a budget and phasing schedule for construction.
THE CITY OWNS THE LAND. NOW WHAT?
In January of 2008, an important real estate closing for the purchase of land occurred. The city now owns the property known as the South Haven Area Regional Park (SHARP). The SHARP Committee is positioned to focus on raising significant funds through a regional capital campaign. The city and SHARP Committee has agreed that the land must be paid for in full before any construction can begin. The capital fund raising campaign is now in full swing!
The city, in partnership with SHARP committee, is setting their sites on Phase 1 development of the SHARP campaign by applying for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. If the city receives this grant, the SHARP committee will raise 50% matching funds.
Those of you who are interested in getting involved can contact any of the names listed at the end of this site.
RECREATIONAL PROGRAMMING SUCCESS AND GROWTH
The South Haven and neighboring communities participate extensively in youth and adult recreational programs. These programs include Rocket Football leagues, Junior Youth League baseball and softball, AYSO soccer, WMYSA soccer, as well as school-based athletics.
Community growth and participation in the many fine recreational programs has increased the demand for more suitable facilities. Currently, recreational activities take place at over five facilities dispersed throughout the City of South Haven, South Haven Township and Casco Township, primarily owned by the public school district. One school administrator said, “One of the reasons we could use more facilities is because there are never any feet off the grass.” That translates into not having enough fields for the community, and the burden of care, and cost of maintenance falls to our community schools. A parent also said “Once a season starts, practices stop. There just aren’t enough facilities to accommodate practices and games.”
National and state health organizations have documented the need for quality recreational facilities in a community. Their studies and reports provide ample evidence that physical exercise and recreational programming provide excellent team building skills for youth and adults and is vital to the overall physical and mental health of individuals and their communities.
SOUTH HAVEN COMMUNITY RECREATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS
The American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) has operated soccer programs in the Greater South Haven area for over 10 years. Also the West Michigan Youth Soccer Association (WMYSA) provides a more selective competitive youth league. These programs have grown to include over 500 boys and girls from age 5 through 16. In addition to these two programs, there are informal, yet very active adult soccer groups. These leagues and groups compete for time and space at three South Haven Public School facilities:
• LC Mohr High School
• Armory Fields
• Baseline Middle School
The South Haven Junior Youth Leagues (SHJYL), a program for youth age 4 through 15, typically has around 550 participants. These players share four playing fields, and also compete for the same space with the Boy’s Varsity and JV and the Girl’s Varsity and JV baseball and softball programs. Competition for the facilities has shortened or eliminated some practices, and produced inconvenient and erratic scheduling for the SHJYL.
Due to a lack of sufficient facilities local church programs and adult leagues are forced to play in surrounding communities as far away as Holland, Coloma and Bangor.
Approximately 120 youth participate in football and cheerleading programs in South Haven. The schedules for S
outh Haven Rocket Football and Cheerleading programs conflict with schedules for AYSO, WMYSA, Freshman, JV and Varsity Ram Soccer and Football.
Having all of these programs competing on limited school fields creates scheduling and logistical complexity.
Although there are tennis facilities at two local schools, the courts are not readily available for the general public. In addition to the limited availability, maintaining the courts at the High School is difficult because of outdated design standards.
DEFICIENCIES IN RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AND PROGRAMMING:
• Severe space limitations for increasing broad community recreational activities
• Insufficient operating budgets for Public School recreation facilities due to rapidly expanding school recreation programming and pressure for non-school related recreation
• Over scheduling of the facilities causes poor conditions due to limited time for maintenance and recovery of facilities and fields
BENEFITS OF A NEW COMMUNITY RECREATIONAL FACILITY AND PROGRAMMING
• Improve recreational services for the Greater South Haven Community
• Controlled environment providing safe facilities for children
• Consolidate facilities to assist families that have multiple recreation participants
• Protect and enhance open space
• Increase opportunities to grow recreational programming
• Healthier youth and adults
• Excellent self esteem and team/skill building for youth and adults
• Enhance multi-cultural community interaction
• Centrally located facility for easy access and visibility
• Economic benefits for the region (tournaments, regional meets, and conferences, will bring an economic benefit to local businesses in our community)
• Reduce maintenance stress and cost to our public school facilities
• Opportunities for simultaneous recreational programming for all ages
• Strong community support has been indicated through regional resident survey
• Enthusiastic support by local Public Schools to relieve pressure on school facilities and to also provide additional community recreation opportunities.
The SHARP committee contracted with Development Strategies, Inc. a regional consulting firm, to conduct a feasibility study, to determine the level of interest from key community leaders. The feasibility study reflects potential support from the community, to support a capital campaign and an implementation plan. The study results were 92% of the community acknowledges that a recreational park is needed and 89% would support the effort.
We look forward to sharing our vision with the South Haven community and seeking your financial support, and input as we build this recreational park for the Greater South Haven area.