Plans to increase the volume of water retained at the Chapaton Pump Station will lead to the relocation of the Nine Mile Road boat ramp to another location on the Nine Mile peninsula or to Blossom Heath.

Plans to increase the volume of water retained at the Chapaton Pump Station will lead to the relocation of the Nine Mile Road boat ramp to another location on the Nine Mile peninsula or to Blossom Heath.

File photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Boat ramp could be relocated under Chapaton improvement plan

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 23, 2019


ST. CLAIR SHORES — An update by Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller laid out changes that could be coming to the Chapaton Retention Basin as the office works to reduce the number of combined sewer overflows dumped into Lake St. Clair each year.

At the Chapaton Retention Basin, a $30 million project with two phases is currently being designed, Miller told City Council members at their Sept. 16 meeting, explaining that the office would like to begin construction in 2020.

There are three options under consideration to expand the retention volume of Chapaton, all of which involve moving the boat ramp at Nine Mile Road.

One option would move the boat ramp to the extreme east end of the peninsula so that the current existing canal could be made into a wetland area that would retain more water in a heavy rain or snowmelt event. Another option would relocate the boat ramp about halfway down the peninsula, but move it to the north side.

Relocating the boat ramp would allow for up to 17 million gallons of additional storage.

“It’s a substantial increase from what we currently have,” said Steve Rozycki, an engineer with the Public Works Office.

Those options would cost $22-$23 million. A third option, however, could cost less and provide more flexibility — the relocation of the ramp to Blossom Heath. That would mean that the Blossom Heath boat ramp would be expanded to accommodate more boats.

Rozycki said that option would maximize the volume that could be stored to reduce combined sewer overflows.

In an interview, Mayor Kip Walby said that expanding the Blossom Heath boat ramp to accommodate three or four boats at a time would save the Public Works Office, and therefore taxpayers, money because it is a cheaper option than moving it out to the end of the Nine Mile peninsula. In addition, with how far boaters would need to walk to get back to their vehicles from the end of the peninsula, “it doesn’t even seem to be usable” for the boat ramp to be relocated there.

St. Clair Shores could get help from the county on what could be a million-dollar project to fix the pavement and seawall at Blossom Heath, and to expand the launch to accommodate more boats at one time.

“We haven’t engineered that, but there seems to be enough room there to do that ... expansion if it came here,” Walby said.

The Nine Mile boat ramp has been open to the public since 2012. Nonresidents pay a $15 user fee to launch boats there, compared with $10 for residents. Annual passes cost $65 for residents of St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe and Roseville, or $100 for nonresidents. Prior to opening the ramp up to the public, the  cities of Eastpointe and St. Clair Shores took turns being in charge of the ramp so their residents could use it. When Eastpointe and Roseville merged their parks and recreation departments in 2011, St. Clair Shores decided to open the ramp up to public use.

The Blossom Heath boat ramp is only open to residents of St. Clair Shores, who still pay a $10 daily or $65 annual fee for its use. Eliminating the Nine Mile boat ramp in favor of expanding Blossom Heath would eliminate the nonresident boaters who use the Nine Mile ramp, Walby conceded.

“The tradeoff is a substantial capital improvement that we would see at Blossom Heath,” he said. “We’re trading a little bit and we think it’s a pretty good trade.”

Because the city of Eastpointe joined with St. Clair Shores in paying for the boat ramp when it was installed in 2001, Walby said that Eastpointe residents would have to be allowed to use the Blossom Heath ramp if Nine Mile was eliminated, but that there is not enough parking, especially on weekends, to accommodate other out-of-town boaters.

But to eliminate nearly three-quarters of the combined sewer overflows into Lake St. Clair, there is no option that would leave the boat ramp in its current space, Walby said.

“We want to be part of helping that solution. I think that’s really important too,” he said.

Walby said that about 25% of St. Clair Shores still has combined sanitary and stormwater sewer systems. Roseville has a similar percentage, but nearly all of Eastpointe still has a combined system.

He said that a decision could be made on where to relocate the boat ramp in the next 30-60 days.

Rozycki said that other recreational opportunities could be installed on what is left of the Nine Mile peninsula after the canal’s capacity is expanded. Macomb County Public Works hopes to begin construction in the third quarter of 2020.

The second phase of the project would take advantage of excess capacity in the existing pipes by installing gates that would close to allow the entire pipe to be filled during a large storm event. Rozycki said that the gates would prevent the water from going further and flooding basements as well.

It is anticipated that an additional 10 million gallons could be stored in the pipes once gates are installed.

“Everything we do in our department is with an eye to quality of life ... and economic prosperity,” Miller said at the Sept. 16 City Council meeting. “We’re all here because of this beautiful, beautiful resource that we have. (It is) so important for this generation to (preserve the water) for the next generation.”

Together, Rozycki said that the two phases would be “basically doubling the size of our current storage in Chapaton,” which currently has a 28 million gallon capacity.

Miller said that while water ratepayers in St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe will pay for the improvements, she has been able to receive funding so far from the Michigan Legislature and hopes to get money from the Southeast Macomb Sanitary Sewer District, or SEMSD. She said she is also working with the Macomb County Board of Commissioners to get money for the project.

“We’re hopeful that, essentially, a third of this is now offset,” she said.


Relief drain inspections
Miller also updated the city on work to inspect relief drains in St. Clair Shores.

While the 11.5 Mile, Stephens and Hetchler relief drains have already been inspected, the Public Works Office waited until summer was over to begin the inspection of the Lake Boulevard Relief Drain, as it ends in a resident park.

“We didn’t want to interfere with their summer activities,” Miller said.

The Public Works Office has also received a $45,000 grant from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) to potentially add a hydrodynamic separator to the end of the 11.5 Mile Relief Drain to keep more sediment and solids out of the lake. In addition, it is investigating the possibility of installing a pocket park on the site of the drain, located immediately north of the VFW Bruce Post 1146, which would include a pathway and potentially a fishing pier.

“It is really a nice piece of property that could be very beautifully landscaped (to) let people use it,” Miller said.