Sunday, December 31, 2000

Pittsfield Township residents buying park land for preservation, The Ann Arbor News

Pittsfield Township residents buying park land for preservation
By Pamela Appea
The Ann Arbor News
Non-profit group has raised $300,00 so far, aiming for $50,000 by year’s end

Several concerned residents of Pittsfield Township are banding together to buy and preserve parkland.

Targeting the area roughly bounded between Ellsworth Road, Platt Road, Michigan Avenue and State Road, members of the Fund for Pittsfield group said developers have expressed an interest in purchasing remaining vacant land in the township.

With 1,000 acres of open space left in the center of Pittsfield Township, it is still undetermined what land owners are going to do with the land.

But members of the Fund for Pittsfield say they hope to raise—and buy—as much land as possible while it’s still open space.

But actually buying the park land, which the group will name the “Heritage Park” is the challenge for the non-profit group.

Christina Lirones, fund-raising coordinator, said Fund for Pittsfield is aiming to raise $50,000 through private donations by the end of this year.

Lirones said the group has raised $30,000.

“Buy that is by no means nearly enough,” Lirones said.

She hopes to raise at least $1 million for Pittsfield Township land, if not more.

“It’s a lot of money we need to raise,” she said.

The effort is overseen by Washtenaw Potawatomi Land Trust, a land conservancy organization of southeastern Michigan.

“In order to adequately preserve land, we have to offer landowners viable opportunities. People are interested in selling land. It’s important to have money available to offer to landowners,” said Barry Lonik, executive director of the land trust.

Lirones said Fund for Pittsfield has approached several landowners and the group may buy a parcel of land within the next month or two.

“There’s nothing definite. It depends on the amount of money we raise,” she said.

Jeffrey Marine, a Pittsfield Township resident, said there is “no question” that hundreds of township residents would like to preserve the rural feel of the community.

At the very least, Marine said, others want to be involved in what parts of the township will be preserved as park land.

“We certainly want to preserve as much land as possible,” Lonik said.

The Fund for Pittsfield is a licenses non-profit organization. For information, call (734) 944-1239 or (734) 944-0639.

Originally published for The Ann Arbor News
Copyright 2000.