- October 15, 2021
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The footprint for Marysville’s Morton Park is about to get a little bit bigger.
The city is slated to pick up another piece of property along the northeast corner of the park, where the city has already seen a growing list of improvements, much of which has been in partnership with St. Clair County Community College.
Marysville City Council members signed off this week on the $210,000 purchase of 502 Busha Highway. Currently, the former residential structure is home to an Allstate Insurance office.
City Manager Randy Fernandez said they were approached about buying the property and told officials that it would strengthen the city’s plans for the park, adding “another amenity to take it from good to great.”
“If you think about what’s been accomplished at Morton Park in just two years. You had outdated ball fields. Now, you have a $2 million soccer facility, which includes a youth 8 and under soccer facility. You have a walking track, you have a bike path, you have an existing skatepark, you have a new 24-hour … outdoor fitness center and you acquired the Moore Trust property,” he said Monday. “And basically, you have all of footprint that’s in the city’s hands. Except there’s one piece that’s not, and this is 502 Busha Highway.”
In early 2020, officials finalized an agreement with SC4 to use two city parks, including Marysville City Park, for athletics programming as part of a larger south college campus idea.
Construction on $2.2 million worth of soccer facilities with a collegiate-quality field and scoreboard, four-lane track, pavilions, and support buildings got underway later that year.
Since then, the city has also installed the outdoor adult fitness equipment and picked up another piece of property adjacent to 502 Busha and also on the highway, or M-29. According to the St. Clair County register of deeds, the Moore Trust property includes multiple parcels, which the city purchased for $90,000 in September 2020.
Fernandez said there are a lot of options for how to use the building, which is expected to be vacated by the end of 2021 by the current business owner.
He said it’s roughly 2,100 square feet in size, handicapped-accessible, and comes with a three-car garage.
The future use could add to ongoing plans at Morton Park, Fernandez said, with anything from concessions or shower and changing facilities for athletes — “right now, the referees change in their car,” he added, and girls arrive dressed for games — to storage for video and taping equipment.
The city manager, who serves on the SC4 board of trustees, said the college has also continued discussions on its own future plans at the park, adding things like lights and grandstands at the soccer field, expanding the skatepark, and installing a playscape could all be shared priorities down the road.
Additionally, Fernandez said the garage could be used for public works storage.
The building itself, however, he said isn’t expected to be demolished — whatever the plans end up being.
Officials have previously discussed finding space to store artifacts from the city’s rarely-opened historic museum.
Fernandez said that’s also a possibility for 502 Busha Highway.
Mayor Wayne Pyden said he wanted to solicit Councilman David Barber to see what could be put on display from among the community’s artifacts. He said he’s seen the building and that’s it’s been well-maintained.
But he said, “Museums are a thing of the past. They’ve gone by the wayside for some reason,” and he wanted to “at least give good thought” to use part of 502 to give local history a new home.
Fernandez said they still have time to figure things out, though he expected the building would look different in a year’s time. He said they’d consider it to be a recreation facility.
“For all those reasons and more, I know Stefanie and I are excited about this opportunity,” he said, referring to Recreation Coordinator Stefanie Schneider. “I think you’ll be surprised what we can do with this building over time.”
Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.