The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority was formed in 2003 under Michigan’s Recreational Authorities Act. In 2004, with the assistance of the Friends for Recreational Lands, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the Traverse City Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, the National Cherry Festival, the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Biederman Foundation, voters in Traverse City and Garfield Charter Township overwhelmingly approved a bond request to allow the Authority to acquire and preserve three private properties for use as public parks. (Click here to view a map of each property)
Over the past 14 years, the Authority has accomplished much of what it originally set out to do, but the opportunity for continual improvements to better serve the public remains. Furthermore, beside its regular monthly public board meetings, the Authority has not conducted a large, concentrated public input effort since 2007. The purpose of this visioning process is to better understand the current and future recreation needs of Traverse City and Garfield Township residents, and decide if the Authority should expand facilities or services in the future to better meet these needs.
West Bay Waterfront Parcel: A small 0.5-acre parcel on West Grand Traverse Bay in downtown Traverse City, across from Hall Street. Formerly the site of an office building owned by Smith Barney, this was the last privately-owned parcel in what is now the contiguous public parkland along the West Bay waterfront collectively known as the “Open Space.” The 2004 bond millage allowed for the demolition and removal of the building and the requisite environmental cleanup. The small parcel is now undeveloped, passively managed and largely indistinguishable from the greater Open Space.
Hickory Meadows: A 112-acre parcel immediately adjacent to the city-owned Hickory Hills ski area, with access from M-72, Randolph Street and Wayne Street. Ownership by the Authority protected the area from private development and preserved it as a popular destination for hiking, dog walking, snowshoeing, skiing, bird watching and other passive recreational pursuits. A citizen volunteer Advisory Committee provides recommendations to the Recreational Authority Board regarding the park’s management.
Historic Barns Park: A 56-acre parcel at the southern end of the Grand Traverse Commons, which is one of the largest mixed-use historic redevelopment efforts in the nation. Historic Barns Park was once the heart of the agricultural production area for the former Traverse City State Hospital, feeding patients and staff from the 1880s into the 1950s. Guided by its own extensive public visioning process, Historic Barns Park is being redeveloped as a one-of-a-kind public space with activities to promote agriculture, horticulture, arts, community events, recreation, and environmental sustainability. The Recreational Authority has a formal management agreement with three nonprofit partners to help manage and improve the site, including The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park, SEEDS, and TC Community Garden. The Authority also contracts with a professional manager to oversee an event facility rental enterprise based in the majestic Cathedral Barn, an enterprise that is designed to generate funds to maintain the building itself.
Traverse City and Garfield Township Recreational Authority Articles of Incorporation
Recreational Authority Bylaws