HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Once the $3.3 million parking lot improvement project is completed at Lake St. Clair Metropark, storm water will finally be diverted from the Black Creek.
The project, which is being funded by two Environmental Protection Agency grants, involves replacing part of the 42-acre parking lot built in 1950 with eco-friendly parking areas and vegetative swales that, along with the nearby wetlands, collect and filter rainfall as part of a natural storm water management system.
The project will improve water quality by reducing the amount of untreated storm water flowing directly into Lake St. Clair. A key element of the design is redirecting the flow of storm water from the existing outlet at Black Creek to a new open-water outlet at the Point Rosa Marsh.
“By expanding our green space and rerouting storm water runoff, we will improve the park’s aesthetics and the environment,” said John P. McCulloch, director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. “This is a big step forward on how to deal with storm water at this park, and can serve as a model for other communities to follow.”
During a May 9 groundbreaking ceremony at the park, McCulloch said the 4,200-space parking lot will also be redesigned to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety.
New parking areas close to the Nature Center will be designed, rerouting the perimeter park road and separating the hike/bike trail from the park road. Two skating ponds and a sledding hill will be shaped into the new contours, and nearly 200 trees and 10 acres of native plants will be placed in green areas.
Construction of the project began on May 20. The entire project is being funded by a $1.5 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant and $1.8 million from the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Authority.
Tim Phillips, Huron-Clinton Metroparks planner, said crews from Dan’s Excavating of Shelby Township will use heavy equipment to crumble up about one-half of the parking lot pavement for the first phase of the project. This material will remain in place and be reused as a base for the new pavement. Dan’s Excavating is the general contractor.
Phillips said parking will be diverted elsewhere in the park, and little disruption is expected throughout the summer.
Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco said the latest project will bring improvements at Lake St. Clair Metropark to $10 million since 2007.
“This is an amenity-filled park, not just a beach,” he said. “These will be improvements we can enjoy throughout the year, and they will draw in more people.”
In 2007, the central plaza area at the park once known as Metro Beach was reconstructed at a cost of close to $1 million. In 2009, a new golf starter building and picnic pavilion replaced aging facilities at a cost of $1.2 million; a $3 million marina opened in 2010, replacing the one built in 1959; and $1.5 million of marsh restoration projects started in 2010. The 770-acre park, which opened in 1950, hosts more than 1 million visitors each year, park officials say.