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 Renovations to the bathhouse at Blossom Heath Park will be completed this year.

Renovations to the bathhouse at Blossom Heath Park will be completed this year.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Construction and new development on tap in St. Clair Shores for 2020

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 3, 2020


ST. CLAIR SHORES — There are plenty of projects on the agenda for St. Clair Shores this year, and leaders are hoping to see development continue to improve the city.

While the driveway to the south of City Hall has been under construction for a few months while the storm line that runs into the canal is completed, workers have “run into a number of different issues, in terms of where that’s connected to other places and dewatering,” City Manager Matt Coppler said.

That is planned to be completed in early 2020. The parking lot behind St. Clair Shores City Hall and the library should also be reconstructed in the spring or early summer, he said.

Coppler said that they’re “looking forward to, hopefully, less flooding than last year,” but the city is still prepared for the eventuality.

“We are still going to be diligently working on high water,” Mayor Kip Walby said. “We expect high water again this year.”

St. Clair Shores will likely begin the replacement of lead service lines in the city as well.

“We’re working hard with (city engineering firm Hubbell, Roth and Clark) and getting a plan in place for early 2020, first quarter, to start addressing those service lines and getting that taken care of,” Walby said. “That’s an important goal of ours.”

The city is exploring the option to add an additional pumping station on Jefferson Avenue, north of Martin Road, to help alleviate some of the high water over the road, he said.

“We think we have a location, but it’s not totally confirmed,” Walby said. “We (would) get a long-term fix and get that temporary pump out of there too.”

Coppler said that he doesn’t foresee financial challenges for the city because of its history of managing its resources well.

Even with the lead service line replacement, he said, it was an unknown but not unforeseeable expense.

“The mayor and council have taken a very proactive approach to that, so it’s something we’ll be able to take on and manage, and move on to bigger and better things after that,” Coppler said.

“We’ll have a number of ribbon cuttings this year,” said Walby, listing off the openings of the bathhouse at Blossom Heath Park, the Axe K-9 memorial at the Police Department, and official grand openings of the baseball fields behind Lakeshore Senior Living, on the site of the former St. Gertrude Church, and of the new pavilions at Veterans Memorial Park.

“Of course one of the goals, too, with the bathhouse there is to get more events over at Blossom Heath and get more utilization of the park and new bathhouse,” he said. “We’ll be working on that.”

Walby said they are planning for more work on the shoreline with a project in conjunction with Macomb County Public Works and the Southeast Michigan Sanitary District to increase the capacity of the Chapaton Pump Station, which could move the boat launch at Nine Mile Road to Blossom Heath.

“There’ll be quite a bit of work there come summertime, we hope, when we get a permit,” Walby said.

But a statement from Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller alluded to the fact that the permit has not yet been forthcoming from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Miller said the Chapaton project, which aims to significantly reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into Lake St. Clair, has hit “bureaucratic snags at the Michigan EGLE.”

“We believe (Lake St. Clair) is best protected when we reduce the amount of sewage — treated or otherwise — that runs into the lake. Initially, EGLE supported this $30 million project by providing a $2 million grant. Now, EGLE is telling us that CSOs don’t impact water quality,” Miller stated.

She said that her department was informed by EGLE that the grant was no longer happening and that a permit for the project is unlikely, around the same time as chromium-6 pollution was discovered in green ooze on Interstate 696 in Madison Heights.

“Part of the reasoning, we are told by EGLE, is that if we reduce these CSOs into Lake St. Clair, then other metro Detroit agencies would feel compelled to do the same,” Miller added. “In other words, we shouldn’t clean up the lake because others would then have to spend money to do so as well.”

But other projects in St. Clair Shores will proceed in 2020.

There are several local road construction projects that are on the agenda, Coppler said, including Beste Street from Gaffke Street  to Martin Road, Hughes Street from Gaffke Street to 12 Mile Road, and Harmon Street from 10 Mile Road to Frazho Street.

In addition, some water mains will be replaced on Beste and Hughes, as well as along California Street from Mack Avenue to Marter Road, and then also from Harper Avenue to Mack Avenue. Rosedale Street from Harper to Mack avenues, and Elmira Street from Mack to Jefferson avenues are also planned for water main replacement, Coppler said.

“Those are what are being engineered and what we’re intending to put out to bid,” he said.

Walby said he’s hoping that Macomb County will work to improve Harper Avenue between Eight Mile and 10 Mile roads, as well.

New businesses are coming to St. Clair Shores for 2020, Walby said.

The city welcomed two new breweries at the end of 2019 and is expecting a credit union to open on Nine Mile Road in 2020. Walby said that they’re still working with Kroger to get in place in the former Kmart building on Harper Avenue at Nine Mile Road. There is a plan on the January Planning Commission meeting agenda for a Panera Bread to locate in an outbuilding in that parking lot.

“We do not have final confirmation with Kroger, (but) we’ve been working with them,” Walby said. “They’ve done a lot of work with the city so far. We feel good about it, but we don’t have the final plans like we have with Panera ... but we’re working diligently with them.”

Plans are also moving forward for a site plan for the Wild Bill’s Tobacco store across Nine Mile Road from Kmart. Walby said they have been working with Wild Bill’s corporate office as well as the property owner to come to an agreement on the plan.