Development plans on the horizon in St. Clair Shores for 2022

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 10, 2022

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — An infusion of federal cash and investment from developers will make 2022 an exciting time in St. Clair Shores, city officials say.

St. Clair Shores is receiving $21 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, or ARPA.

“I’ve never seen this before,” City Manager Matthew Coppler said of the infusion of funds from the federal government. “One of the big centerpieces of this is going to be the beginning of the sanitary storm separation.”

The city has already commenced preliminary engineering of the project, which will begin the separation of sanitary and storm sewers in the Martin Drainage District. Coppler said they hope to begin work in the upcoming construction season.

“Because there’s a potential for more money, we’re optimistic we may be able to get more done than we anticipated,” he said. “That’s going to have a meaningful impact in improving the quality of water in Lake St. Clair.”

More ARPA money will be put to use evaluating the needs and the current facilities of the police and fire departments, Mayor Kip Walby said.

“The planning and what eventually comes to the body ... we’ll be using those ARPA (funds) for it,” he said. “Something that, fiscally, we couldn’t probably do in the short-term here, this is an opportunity to put some of that money to work.

“For future councils, they won’t have this albatross around their neck. This will assist future councils so they won’t have to deal with this.”

Coppler said that City Council will also form working committees with staff to look at work that needs to be done to the Police Station and three Fire Stations.

“While there probably won’t be any construction in the upcoming year, the plan is to prepare options for how money can be spent to improve them,” Coppler said. “That’s long overdue.”

Coppler said they were looking forward to the Blossom Heath fishing pier being “substantially complete by the end of June, if everything goes well.”

“We’re hoping for somewhere (around) July 4, a ribbon cutting at the pier,” Walby said.

Other improvements are planned in parks and recreation, including improvements to the Senior Center, as well.

“We hope to put some pickleball courts in the city,” Walby said. “It’s taken off, not just with seniors, but with younger people.”

St. Clair Shores is looking to update the remainder of the city’s parks, as well.

The upcoming year should bring more commercial and residential reinvestment in the city, Coppler said.

“We are, I think, as a city finally being seen as a place for the reinvestment that may have been happening on the west side of Detroit,” he said. “You’re going to be seeing, I think in the next several months, more redevelopment in the city.”

“We hope to develop a couple of the eyesores: the St. Mary’s (nursing home) and the two Krogers and another one, truthfully, is the Pizza Hut,” Walby explained. “We’re working to try to take care of those establishments.”

Development plans for property owned by the city on Jefferson Avenue south of Veterans Memorial Park should be coming to the Planning Commission and City Council in the next few months, Coppler said.

“That, potentially, has already spun into more development in the area, as well,” he said. “They finally settled on some ideas that will be very good for that area, as well as the whole city.”

Walby said the development could include condominiums.

“That’s an exciting project,” he said. “There are people out there putting designs together, so that’s exciting.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation will begin construction on Interstate-94 between Eight Mile Road and 11 Mile Road in the fall, Walby said.

“That’s a significant project here, so that’s going to upend us for quite a while, so that’s a challenge,” he said.

St. Clair Shores city officials and business leaders are working to establish a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in Downtown St. Clair Shores, and new city employees will take full reins in 2022, as well.

“We’ve got Mr. (Chris) Rayes retiring in January. We have Denise Pike in there. It was good to have Denise hired,” Walby said, referring to the head of the Community Development and Inspection Department. “We also hired an engineer in 2021. By the time 2022 comes along, they will have been here for a number of months and up to speed.”

Coppler said he believed 2022 would be a busy year for the city.

“There’s a lot on the plate for the upcoming year, and I think the mayor and council have a lot of really good decisions to make in terms of how to spend that ARPA money and getting a lot of projects moving that, maybe, haven’t moved in the past,” Coppler said.

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