March 18 2013 12:00 AM

The state approves parks funding that will go toward reopening Crego Park

Friday, April 8 — The city has landed $500,000 in state grant money for reopening Lansing’s largest park, Parks Director Murdock Jemerson said.

Crego Park in south Lansing, which is more than 200 acres east of Aurelius Road between Interstate 496 and Mt. Hope Avenue, has been closed for more than 20 years.

“The park has been OK’d for us to open,” Jemerson said at a public meeting on the city’s cemeteries Thursday night. Jemerson said the goal is to reopen Crego as a “passive park,” which requires low maintenance and offers “quiet water sports” like fishing, canoeing and kayaking, taking advantage of its natural setting.

Jemerson said restoring Crego will not begin until fall, “at the earliest.” The city applied for a state Department of Natural Resources “trust fund” grant last year, which requires the city to match $250,000 in costs. Jemerson said the City Council approved that last year and that the money will come out of the Parks Millage Fund.

Jemerson added that getting the state money was a “big piece” of the puzzle to reopen Crego. The Legislature passed legislation on March 30 and Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill on the same day, according to a letter from the DNR. The legislation appropriates $102 million for 46 land acquisitions and  71 recreation development projects throughout the state.

Rick Kibbey, president of the Parks Board, said the funding approval is significant.

“We were concerned the trust fund wouldn’t make it through the Legislature,” he said. “But we gave them a good urban project.”

Kibbey said Crego is a unique piece of property and an asset to Lansing’s urban core, complementing nearby Fenner Nature Center and Potter Park.

“In the spring, it’s just alive with reptiles, amphibians and birds. It’s a climax oak forest right in the middle of the city,” he said. “I don’t know of a more pleasant entrance to the city.”