With grant, Clinton River project is ready to roll

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published September 30, 2015

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Sterling Heights and Utica’s wishes for resources to produce a cleaner, more productive Clinton River were recently granted, according to city officials.

At a Sept. 15 Sterling Heights City Council meeting, officials announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had approved a $4.5 million grant that will be used to pursue a Clinton River Corridor Habitat Restoration Project.

Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the project, which aims to spruce up around 9 miles of river, fits into the city’s Visioning 2030 placemaking objectives that were approved in 2014.

According to city officials, placemaking involves identifying natural assets and creating destination areas that maintain and attract residents and businesses. Vanderpool called the city’s Clinton River project “one of the largest placemaking initiatives in our city’s history.”

“Tonight’s announcement is a giant leap forward into an exciting future for this great community,” he added.

Denice Gerstenberg, Sterling Heights city development director, said the city has big plans for the Clinton River, including expanded paddling activities and improved fishing access. And eventually, the city hopes to offer attractions such as zip lines, urban camping and a dog park, she said.

“We are working to sow seeds for a vibrant community people want to invest in,” she added.

Jamie Burton, from engineering firm Hubbell, Roth & Clark, shared some additional details of the restoration project, saying that it would employ a “multifaceted approach.”

Burton explained that the EPA grant does not require matching funds, and it is 100 percent federally funded. He explained that the project will solve problems related to habitats, bank erosion, invasive species and woody debris.

“While those are highly driven toward habitat, this sets the stage for future recreation and placemaking activities,” he said. “Construction is slated to occur over the next several years.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor thanked city administrators and other partners who helped make the grant a reality. He said the river, paired with Dodge Park, is the city’s greatest natural asset, and he added that he can’t wait to see the work get done.

“It’s one of those very tangible, real results that we can point to — the good work that our city is doing for the residents of Sterling Heights,” he said.

In a statement, Utica Mayor Jacqueline Noonan agreed that the river is a community focal point.

“We believe this grant and the wonderful partnerships will greatly enhance our scenic beauty, recreation and fish habitats,” she said.

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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