ST. JOSEPH — Judging by the feedback that has come in so far, the game of cricket is a huge hit – and needs some breathing space to keep up with the demand for it locally.
That was the most surprising response among the comments about the township’s update of its parks and recreation plan, Township Manager Denise Cook said.
Consultant Cindy LaGrow shared those comments, along with a draft of the latest version, at Monday night’s township board meeting.
“She got a lot of feedback on people wanting to have a designated place to play cricket,” Cook said. “There’s a St. Joe Cricket League that’s playing at Carronde Park (in Fairplain), but they only get two days a week – if we can squeeze them in there.”
The league has grown from 30 people since it formed in 2012, to its current strength of about 90 members, she said.
The township is paying LaGrow $3,500 to help rewrite the plan, which it last updated five years ago, Cook said.
“This is a third time that she’s done an update for us,” she said.
As part of that effort, the township is asking residents to fill out surveys outlining what they’d like to see included in the final draft.
Along with the designated cricket space, other respondents asked the township to work on replacing old or outdated playground equipment, “and (make) more of a connection to other communities, with trails,” Cook said.
People can still weigh in, too, since the public comment period hasn’t expired yet, Cook said. S“There’s a copy (of the latest draft) in the library, here, in the township (hall), and on our website, that people can take a look at,” she said.
Copies have to go out to Lincoln and Royalton townships, as well as the city of St. Joseph and Berrien County.
The board would also have to set a public hearing, either in January or February, to review and adopt the plan, Cook said. Once it’s adopted, it takes effect right away. The new plan would then run through 2023.
The board also approved a $35,000 funds transfer to cover its share of the cost of providing new some election equipment, Cook said.
“We had put away $35,000. We had been told, for several years, that it was going to be about $5,000 for each machine, and the state wouldn’t have the money,” she said.
However, the state did come up with some money, leaving the township to pay only $10,000 for six tabulators, and four voting machines that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Cook said.
She didn’t recall the total cost, or how much funding the state provided.
The township has received the machines, which were actually used in a couple of last month’s local elections, she said.
The board also approved a new three-year contract for its 12 police officers, who will receive a 2 percent raise in the first and second years, and 3 percent for the last year, Cook said.
Command officers aren’t affected, since they aren’t part of the union, Cook said. The new contract runs through 2020.
Cook didn’t know how much the raises will cost to the township to absorb, overall. That figure is tied to years of service, so it would differ for each officer, she said.
The board also set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2, to take up a special permit use request from St. Joseph Public Schools – which wants to put up a communications tower near its Lincoln Avenue administrative offices, Cook said.
“There’s a little cut out, on the side of the building where it (the tower) fits right in there,” she said.
Board approval is needed because the area is zoned residential, and the tower project doesn’t fit that category, she added.