CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The partnership between Clinton Township and the Clinton River Watershed Council is already producing results.
Soon, people who enjoy boating and paddling sports will have a launch to use at Budd Park.
This particular initiative stemmed from a township board meeting in February, when the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) introduced the WaterTowns initiative: an effort to reach out to a multitude of municipalities in hope that the assets of the Clinton River can be fully enjoyed.
The initiative set goals to expound on the potential, such as marking various hub points within the township that would be beneficial to work with, including Budd Park. A hub is a place where people and water come together for recreation, providing effortless access to waterways for various activities.
A five-year “road map” was introduced earlier this year.
“The watershed council put together a plan for us — a preliminary layout plan of the park to include pathways, a boat launch, native vegetation (green infrastructure), so that in the future, if grant money becomes available to make improvements, we can use it as a stepping stone,” said Clinton Township Public Services Director Mary Bednar.
Macomb County provided a $5,000 ITC grant to help the CRWC and township get off and running on the Budd Park launch, which is part of what the county hopes is a growing number of municipalities improving recreational infrastructure for residents near waterways.
The city of Utica recently celebrated the first boat launch in the county on May 1, and the Budd Park launch is expected to be constructed this year, as well. The Clinton Township board has the final say on all approvals, and the Budd Park launch was unanimously voted to proceed.
Gerard Santoro is the program manager of land and water resources at Macomb County’s Planning and Economic Development division. He said that the ITC grant is a small planning grant to help implement a “Blue Economy” initiative under Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, so that through the planning and economic department, small grants for local government can be implemented.
The goal of the “Blue Economy” initiative is to create better access for the people and visitors of Macomb County to the Clinton River, be it for active recreation — paddling sports, canoeing, kayaking — or for local businesses.
“When the local governments express an interest as part of annual strategic planning, we will visit them based on whether money can be used effectively and whether they are ready to implement them in a program,” Santoro said.
The partnership between the township and the CRWC is 50-50, according to CRWC planner Nina Ignaczak. By focusing on a few different key elements — better connections to the regional trail system, a kayak launch area, a better parking situation, landscape restoration and storm water drains — it provides a plan of precision.
“Planning is a long-term proposition, so we’re taking visions done in the past and see what the community wants to do,” Ignaczak said. “We want to develop a framework and see costs associated with it and development. We are working together to get everyone on the same page, but some of these things will take longer to implement.”
And things usually take longer because of finances.
Country grants are helpful but not always available, which is a reality in communities like Clinton Township. Things like water hubs can only be improved if there is the money to fund such projects.
“It’s hard to say because if grant money becomes available and the township has a required match, it could be sooner than later,” Bednar said.