Download the final report.

Welcome! The City of Traverse City and Charter Township of Garfield Recreational Authority recently completed a public visioning process to better understand how the Authority can better serve the future recreational needs and desires of Township and City residents. Throughout this effort, the Authority held focus-group discussions, surveyed park users, and held a series of open Community Visioning sessions. Results from this five-month input process can be found on this website. Thank you for your interest!

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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

Reports and Meeting Materials

Much work has already been completed by the Recreational Authority since 2004, laying a strong foundation for future visioning efforts and improvements. Below you will find key documents, studies, and visioning efforts that have been conducted for the Authority since its inception. Each of these reports is important in informing future decisions for the Authority.

The second public workshop was held November 14.  Click the link for the results. Public Workshop #2 Notes Compiled

Visioning Workshop #2 Presentation

The results from the Historic Barns Park survey and the Hickory Meadows survey were compiled into two reports.  Please click the links below to see the reports.

Historic Barns Survey Results

Hickory Meadows Survey Results

A community survey was distributed to gather feedback.  625 people responded.  Click the link for the results. Community Survey Results Summary

Five Focus group meetings were held in September 2018.    Focus Group Summary

The first public workshop was held October 10.  Click the link for the results. Workshop #1 Notes Compiled

Visioning Workshop #1 Presentation

Branding Study Session 2018 Report

Areas of Needed Work 2016 Report

Historic Barns Park Conceptual Design for Energy Action Planning

Historic Barns Park 2011 Business Plan

Hickory Meadows 2011 Management Plan

Barns Visioning 2007 Report

Hickory Meadows 2004 Survey

Opportunities to Engage

Input collected from residents, recreation users, and Authority stakeholders formed the foundation for the recommendations presented in the final report. Through a series of surveys, focus group discussions, stakeholder interviews, and public visioning workshops, the project team gathered feedback to craft a series of recommendations for the Authority. The links below summarize input gathered through these input sessions.

Workshop #2: Wednesday, November 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park. The purpose of the November 14 public workshop was three-fold—to educate community members about the Recreational Authority; to gather input on a series of alternatives; and to identify a feasible, preferred model for the Recreational Authority. After a short presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions to identify a long-term vision for the Authority.

Click here for the details – Workshop #2 flyer,

Rec Authority – Media Release November 8

Workshop #1: Workshop #1 flyer.  

There will be a public workshop held on October 10, 2018 from 6:00-8:00pm at the Historic Barns Park, Oct 10 Public Workshop Agenda

Learn more about the Recreation Authority, Rec Authority one pager

Initial Media Release, August 6, 2018

UpNorthLive Press Coverage, August 6, 2018

Traverse City Ticker Article, August 9, 2018