Hickory Hills master plan revealed

More than 80 people came out to learn more about the master plan proposals and voice their own ideas.

Hickory Hills has been serving the Traverse City community for 60 years, but the ski slope operated by the city has faced budget issues.

A master plan study was undertaken to look into potential ways to expand the facility to get more use out of it. A meeting was held Thursday night to gather community reaction to the proposals.

More than 80 people came out to learn more about the possible changes for Hickory Hills.

â??I haven't had a chance to really learn about the proposals yet,â?? said Elizabeth Dell of Traverse City.

Dell was curious to hear what the master plan has to offer, because her family uses Hickory Hills frequently.

â??It's got incredible tradition, a special feeling. It's a safe place for families to go. You can leave your kids there and they can go off and be independent and have a lot of fun,â?? said Dell.

Others agree about tradition.

â??I learned to ski at Hickory Hills,â?? said Bill Smith of Traverse City. â??I'm still skiing. It's a huge impact, not only just for skiing, but for recreation.â??

â??I snow board there every day,â?? said Cole Szunko of Traverse City. â??In the summer I play Frisbee golf.â??

The Grand Traverse Ski Club and Preserve Hickory got the funding from the city to develop a master plan, analyzing the possibilities for the 125-acre grounds.

â??Now we've listed those potential items and we're here tonight to try to see what people are interested in,â?? said Mac McClelland, a volunteer for Preserve Hickory.

The proposals include expanding the ski terrain, adding an ice rink, a kid's play space, and a fire pit.

As for spring, summer, and fall activities, ideas range from creating a community center, adding a pavilion and picnic grounds, and introducing an indoor rock climbing facility.

â??We really want to expand the use of that facility and make it a great recreation area so that it really becomes the community asset it can be,â?? said McClelland.

People in the community agree, Hickory Hills is vital for the kids.

â??Middle school kids, there's really no place for them to go, not too many places in town,â?? said Heather Wares of Traverse City. â??So this is a great opportunity.

â??I wouldn't have anywhere to go without Hickory,â?? said Szunko.

â??It's an asset that's really worth preserving. I think we can work to find ways to make it more accessible to more people and get more people out there so they can enjoy it as well,â?? said Dell.

Preserve Hickory is asking community members to weigh in, regardless of whether they currently use Hickory Hills or not. There's an online survey to fill out regarding the master plan.

You'll want to set aside about fifteen minutes to complete it.

The survey will be available for two weeks.

Preserve Hickory hopes to have all of the responses compiled and organized by April to start taking action.

They will have to take the final plan before city commissioners for approval.