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October 22, 2013

Rochester site of first WaterTown hub

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

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Rochester Deputy Manager Nik Banda and Rochester Mayor Pro-tem Jeff Cuthbertson check out the new kayak locker on the Clinton River under the Main Street Bridge Oct. 17.

ROCHESTER — Below the Main Street bridge off Diversion Street, a new kayak locker awaits those who aim to paddle down the Clinton River.

The site is also the first WaterTown hub, a community-based initiative designed to help towns and cities in the Clinton River Watershed leverage the assets of the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair for water-oriented community development.

“Forty years ago, we would not be standing here,” said Clinton River Watershed Council Executive Director Anne Vaara at the kayak locker opening Oct. 17. “The Clinton River was the most polluted river in Michigan.”

Water quality in the Clinton River has improved dramatically over the past 40 years, she said, and the river is now home to a large, varied fishery, and is enjoyed by fisherman, and canoe and kayak paddlers.

The new wooden kayak locker, built by a local Eagle Scout, is located under the south end of the Main Street bridge, near the Clinton River Trail and the shops and restaurants of downtown Rochester.

“We are in the underbelly of Rochester,” said David Walker, ambassador for the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The area may see further development, with kiosks, a pavilion, restrooms and more.

“We are working to develop a stairway up to Main Street,” said Rochester Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Cuthbertson, which would allow easy access from the trail and river to street level. “We’d like to see these people downtown,” he said.

Nina Misuraca-Ignaczak, CRWC watershed planner, said the council chose Rochester for its first WaterTown hub location because of the river site’s close connection to the Clinton River Trail and the city.

“Rochester is such a great partner,” she said. “They take water resource seriously as an asset.” 

The CRWC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and celebrating the Clinton River, its watershed and Lake St. Clair. Formed in 1972 by the authority of the Michigan Local Rivers Management Act, the council organizes the efforts of community groups, local governments and businesses to improve water quality and promote the river as a recreational resource.

The WaterTown initiative is funded by donations from the Erb Family Foundation and aims to develop a vision for the entire watershed to maximize the potential of the river.

Kayak rental and delivery service on the Clinton River are available through Simple Adventures by visiting simpleadventures.net.

Vaara said the CRWC has identified 25 sites for potential WaterTown hubs in Oakland and Macomb counties.

“Out next hub will be in Mount Clemens,” she said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.