Posts Tagged ‘William Milliken State Park’

Update on Milliken State Park and Globe Building

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Associated Press is reporting on the DNR’s plans to build an adventure and discovery center in the historic Globe Building located on the Dequindre Cut and Detroit RiverWalk.

Anthes said the DNR is aiming to open the activity center in the fall of 2012, and it’s working with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. and the developer, Troy-based Labor Management Fund Advisors. The developer is seeking at least one more occupant for the remainder of the building, and is working out financing for the balance of the project.

Besides the rock-climbing wall and zip lines, planners also envision an interpretive forest, archery range and classroom space in the gutted but structurally sound building. Anthes said they also are considering a kayak simulation ride as a rider might have on the river across the street.

Anthes said they haven’t found anything quite like it nationally, and it makes sense to create such a center in the largest city of the Great Lakes State.

Perhaps the most exciting new information is the anticipated opening date of fall 2012.

As we’ve said before, this project will bring tremendous value to this area and these trails. It will become a major destination for Detroiters as well as tourists.

There are two previous m-bike articles from 2010 that discussed the globe building and grant funding.

Detroit 2020 looks at trails

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Perhaps you’ve already heard about the Detroit 2020 Project.

Detroit 2020 is a WXYZ commitment to address the challenges facing the region.  We will work side by side with our communities to listen, talk and take action.  Our goal is to unify, inspire change and help make Detroit a better place to live, work and raise families.

Yesterday they aired a segment on the RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut which gives a brief introduction to a couple of world class trails.

Yes, it’s a $300 million development project.

And the video also talks about how projects like this are true public-private partnerships. Whereas in most other cities, it’s the government leading the trail development and operations, that’s not the case here. It’s the Conservancy and their staff — and it works well. However, it does skew results when national groups try to benchmark Detroit based on the number of city employees work on biking and walking. For example, the 2010 Benchmark Report from the Alliance for Biking and Walking ranked Detroit last in this category. They wouldn’t count the 24 staff working for the Conservancy since their not city employees.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is also looking for volunteers to serve as ambassadors this coming summer. If you’re interested, give them a call at (313) 566-8200 during business hours for more information.

Major Detroit trail and park grants get the nod

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

The Dequindre Trail abuts the historic Globe Building

Yesterday was likely the biggest day in Michigan history for greenspace grant decisions largely due to a recent windfall in gas and oil leases on state land.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees today recommended to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm that 117 recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $102,098,400 be funded in 2011. The board this year had considered 165 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling $140.4 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the MNRTF board.

“Michigan’s remarkable natural resources help to make our state more appealing to residents and visitors alike,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “The important work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund makes it possible to acquire and safeguard some of our most beautiful natural and recreational areas for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”

Of course these grant decisions are not final and are subject to a review by the Governor before the Michigan legislature actually appropriates the money sometime next year.

So, how’d this area do?

City of Detroit

Clearly the biggest winner was the Detroit RiverWalk, Milliken State Park, and Dequindre Cut. These three projects were recommended for a whopping $34.4 million for land acquisition.

Here’s how that funding breaks down. Note the the DNRE was the applicant for the first three, while Detroit applied for the Dequindre Cut expansion.

  • William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor (Wayne County) – $20 million. This funding will be used to acquire three to six large private inholding parcels and trail easements along the Detroit Riverfront as additions to the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor in downtown Detroit.
  • Globe Building Adventure and Discovery Center Acquisition (Wayne County) – $9 million. This funding would be used by the DNRE to acquire 48,000 square feet of built-out space in the Globe Building for the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor Adventure and Discovery Center in downtown Detroit.
  • Detroit Riverfront Easements and Acquisitions (Wayne County) – $5 million. These funds would be used by the DNRE to acquire public use easements and land acquisitions along the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge to the MacArthur Bridge as part of a 5-mile-long public greenway.
  • Dequindre Cut Expansion, City of Detroit (Wayne County) – $375,000. These funds would be used to acquire a 0.7-mile section of abandoned rail corridor in downtown Detroit that continues the Dequindre Cut north, connecting the Detroit Riverfront to the historic Eastern Market.

A million dollars in Detroit Recreational Department projects were also recommended, both of which include trails. These grants  along with the Dequindre Cut grant would not have been possible without the city’s recreation plan being approved earlier this year — a basic requirement for this funding source.

  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Balduck Park In-Town Youth Camp and Family Picnic Area. This will include restrooms, picnic shelter, play area, nature trail, walking path, camp activity areas, pathways and interpretive signs.
  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 for improvements to Patton Park, including construction of two softball diamonds, lighting, comfort station, picnic shelter, parking lot improvements, connecting pathways, and an asphalt trail linking the Greenway to the sidewalks.

Wayne County

Four other projects in Wayne County were recommended:

  • Northville Township (Wayne County) – $3,053,700. These funds would be used for Phase II acquisition of 51.01 acres to create a linear park connecting the former Northville State Hospital property with the Wayne County Hines Parkway system and also preserve 200-year-old growth forest and link to the Southeast Michigan Greenways Network.
  • Wayne County is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Refuge Gateway Boat Dock/Fishing Pier for the Great Lakes Schoolship and associated recreational features.
  • City of Flat Rock (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $447,900 for the Flat Rock-Oakwood Metro Park Connector. This project will develop 1.93 miles of trail linking the Flat Rock Greenway to the Oakwood Metro Park Greenway to create a contiguous 23-mile greenway system in southeast Michigan.
  • City of Inkster (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $408,000 to develop a 4.5-mile Inkster Park Greenway Trail through the city along Wayne County parkland adjacent to the Lower Rouge River.

Oakland County

Five projects in Oakland County were recommended, but perhaps the biggest news was the one that wasn’t, the Wixom, Commerce, Walled Lake rail-trail, part of the Michigan Air Line. It was rejected last year due to a lack of matching funds. This year the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) spoke against it since the original plan would have negatLively impacted a local rail customer. That plan had been updated to remove that impact but MEDC was apparently unaware of it and no one was at the meeting to address the update. This is very unfortunate given the large amount of funding available this year.

  • West Bloomfield Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop a 2.5-mile, 10-foot wide aggregate path; road crossings; benches; interpretive signs; native seeding along the West Bloomfield Trail, which is part of the Michigan Airline Trail system.
  • City of Novi (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $437,500 to develop a trailhead for Landings Park for the existing and future non-motorized regional pathway system within the 11-acre Landings parkland, with an accessible waterfront park with 835 feet of naturalized shoreline.
  • Oakland County is recommended to receive $308,000 to develop universally accessible amenities at Highland Oaks, Lyon Oaks, Red Oaks and Rose Oaks parks.
  • Oakland Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $154,900 for the improvements at the Lost Lake Nature Park, including renovation of existing residence for nature center use, a fishing dock, non-motorized boating, nature observation/education, accessibility improvements to parking lot, pedestrian routes, interpretative signage and storm water buffers.
  • Village of Leonard (Oakland County) – $22,500. This funding would be used to acquire 0.28 acres of property adjacent to the Polly Ann Trail.

Macomb County

Only one project was recommended in Macomb County. The county had submitted a grant request for the Lake St. Clair Shoreline Trail between Selfridge AFB and the lake. That was rejected since the land was already in public ownership. The case was being made that although it was in public ownership, it hadn’t been open to the public. Apparently that argument didn’t win out.

  • Macomb County is recommended to receive $205,000 to develop the Nicholson Nature Center, including a restroom facility, classrooms, boardwalk, trails, stream crossings, wetlands enhancement and signage.

Link: Complete list of all funding recommendations

Detroit RiverWalk expansion and nudging the HCMA

Friday, November 26th, 2010

We just received copies of minutes from last month’s Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund meeting. Typically these minutes contain discussions on Trust Find grant requests from around the state.

These minutes in particular contain discussions on three DNRE grant applications for the RiverWalk. (The city of Detroit has four additional grant requests, including one for extending the Dequindre Cut north to Mack.)

Mr. Yauk outlined the Detroit Riverfront applications that have been submitted. These are all Tier 1 acquisitions. The following acquisition projects were outlined:

10-159. Milliken State Park Acquisition (Wayne County) – Acquisition of Detroit Riverfront parcels – Atwater parcel is scheduled for housing or high-end development; Chene West parcel was a former concrete facility which is now a razed site; and Chene East parcel. Request: $20 million.

Chairperson Muchmore asked what the plans were for the Atwater parcel. Mr. Yauk responded that the plan is for high-end condos with zero lot line. If the property is successfully acquired, the DNRE plans another phased development of the open corridor on the Detroit waterfront for the park. Chairperson Muchmore wondered how much potential there was that the condominium development would actually take place. Mr. Yauk responded that Detroit is focusing on the waterfront for development. The DNRE wants to obtain these properties and capture the waterfront for future generations. It is critical for what the DNRE wants to do for downtown Detroit.

Mr. Yauk further responded that the park is 21 acres at the present time and acquiring these acquisitions would be a great improvement. There are over two million visitors to the park each year.

Chairperson Muchmore asked who owns the property. Director Humphries responded the City of Detroit, Economic Development, and they will not donate the property to the DNRE. The DNRE attempted to negotiate for this parcel at the conception of the park, but were not successful, as the city thought they could develop it.

Chairperson Muchmore was apprehensive about the city, when the DNRE is spending a lot of money to develop parks and the city has not contributed in the costs. The property values are being held up, which are less desirable properties that the city cannot do anything with.

Mr. Charters asked if the Board would be provided with a breakdown of the estimated cost of properties. Mr. Yauk responded yes, but the appraisals have not been started.

10-128, Globe Building Adventure and Discovery Center Acquisition (Wane County) – Acquisition of 10,000+ feet for an urban outdoor learning center. This would provide hands-on outdoor education opportunities. Request: $2 million.

Chairperson Muchmore asked if this would work as opposed to the Belle Isle Aquarium. Mr. Yauk responded that the Belle Isle Aquarium is a great project, but Milliken State Park gets two million visitors a year.

10-130, Detroit Riverfront Easements and Acquisitions (Wayne County) – Acquisitions to consolidate the existing Detroit Riverfront easements – 3.5 to 4 miles from Ambassador Bridge to MacArthur Bridge. Request: $5 million.

The Trust Fund makes their grant decision next month, but as we mentioned before, they have an unusually large amount of money to spend this year. That greatly increases the odds that the RiverWalk projects will be funded to some extent.

These grant requests certainly highlight the DNRE’s commitment to the RiverWalk and building greenspace in Detroit.

Metroparks investment in Detroit

Also at this meeting, the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA) made a pitch for a trails project in their Hudson Mills Metropark.

That elicited this interesting discussion from Trust Fund board member Bob Garner regarding the HCMA’s relative lack of commitment to Detroit.

Mr. Garner mentioned that there was no presence of HCMA facilities in the City of Detroit. He wondered if there was any chance of redirecting HCMA support and funding for the Detroit Riverfront. Mr. Moilanen responded that HCMA is actively researching ways that HCMA can be more active within the City of Detroit. A couple members of HCMA sit on the board of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. HCMA did have a presence around Belle Isle with the Detroit Zoo for five years. That relationship has ended, but over the years has pursued a number of ways to be involved.

Mr. Garner feels that HCMA should have a presence in the city. He wondered if perhaps HCMA could assist in acquiring and developing one of the properties being proposed for acquisition to Milliken State Park. Mr. Moilanen responded that HCMA was very interested in acquiring the operation and ownership of Belle Isle (in early 1970s). Earlier this year, HCMA’s Board has again voiced this interest, and has researched ways to become more actively involved.

Chairperson Muchmore stated that the DNRE is looking for a partner in acquiring the Globe Building property.

It’s great to see this awareness among the Trust Fund. They’re basically telling the HCMA that they want to see some grant requests for Detroit projects. Ideas for HCMA investments have been floated in the past, including Belle Isle, Fort Wayne, the State Fairgrounds, and some Detroit greenways.

They should be investing in the state’s largest city. Detroiters are paying that HCMA millage, too.

Planned Detroit RiverWalk improvements

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

SEMCOG has been asked to add 60 projects to the 2011-2014 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Among those additions, MDOT has submitted 3 non-motorized pathway construction projects for the Detroit RiverWalk.

  • 2011: $15.5 million for pathways at various locations between Cobo Hall and the Belle Isle Bridge, perhaps including the unfinished section in front of the new Port Authority.
  • 2012: $5.4 million for pathways from Chene (Park) to Jos Campau.
  • 2013: $11 million for pathways from Meldrum (Mt. Elliot Park) to the Belle Isle Bridge. This is the Uniroyal site.

Yes, the details are vague, but it’s enough information to get excited. If this goes as planned, the RiverWalk will connect with Belle Isle by 2013.

Milliken State Park expansion?

The DNRE is also looking at expanding their state park located on the RiverWalk.

This is an excerpt from  a presentation given at the August 18th Natural Resources Trust Fund meeting, which has provided funding to the RiverWalk and state park. The presentation was by Vicki Anthes from the DNRE and Faye Alexander-Nelson from the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

Ms. Anthes outlined two parcels that are critical for additional development of the state park. The first parcel is the Atwater Loft building, which has sat vacant for some time. The Detroit Economic Development Corporation is willing to discuss acquisition of the property. This property would have a huge impact on how the remainder of the park is developed. The other property, north of Atwater Street, is the Globe Building and some vacant land just north of it. She discussed additional parcels of interest to future development of the park — Watermark parcel, existing City of Detroit owned Chene Park and Holsom property. None of these properties have been developed. The DNRE would like the City of Detroit to consider these properties for acquisition to the Milliken State Park to expand recreational opportunities. Another parcel for consideration is located on the the west riverfront area and is approximately 40 acres. The City of Detroit owns this property as well. If all parcels were acquired, the state park would go from 31 acres to approximately 78 acres.

The Atwater Loft building mentioned above is that vacant land just east of the Rivard Plaza parking lot. The minutes imply that Chene Park is undeveloped, which is obviously not correct. The DEGC does have plans to expand Hart Plaza so that it replaces Chene Park. This is a really needed if there’s any hope of increasing residential living opportunities in the area around Chene. Living next to an amphitheater brings noise and parking issues.

What this really shows is the market for condos directly on the river isn’t what the DEGC thought, at least not in this current market. The DNRE can apply for Trust Fund grants to acquire and develop park land, so they’re really the only game in town right now.

The presentation included  more information on the Globe Buiding.

Ms. Anthes further outlined the vision of development at the Globe Building property. A portion of the interior space could provide opportunities for an adventure and discovery center. There would be hands-on activities for visitors to experience outdoor recreation and natural resources, such as climbing a giant White Pine tree, simulated kayaking trip or an indoor archery center.

Interesting ideas. It’s great to see the DNRE is expanding their role in Detroit — as they should. This state park is more readily accessible than any other in Michigan. It’s highly visible and a huge asset to the community.

Dequindre Cut Expansion

At this same Trust Fund meeting, Tom Woiwode from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan discussed the planned northward extension of the Cut to Mack Avenue.

From the minutes:

The original plan was to connect the trail into Eastern Market. In the first phase of the project, the trail got users as far as Gratiot. North of Gratiot the property was privately owned. The railroad company owns this property. Just last month the railroad company has agreed to sell the property.

The Community Foundation is prepared to provide the match required for the acquisition. With this property, the Dequindre Cut will actually directly connect with Eastern Market. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) provided a $393,000 grant towards the Dequindre Cut south trail construction. They have expressed interest in continuing the project north and have some construction funds available.

There you go, D-Cut fans. The wheels of trail expansion are turning…