Macomb County officials spearhead changes to improve local parks, health

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published March 14, 2019

 A 50-foot waterslide at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township is a popular attraction during the summer months. The slide was one of numerous additions to the park in April 2017.

A 50-foot waterslide at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township is a popular attraction during the summer months. The slide was one of numerous additions to the park in April 2017.

File photo by Julie Snyder

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MACOMB COUNTY — Macomb County officials are focusing on the benefits of, and benefiting, local parks just in time for spring.

The Macomb County Health Department recently launched a new website with the goal of getting more people out to one of the myriad parks throughout the county and enjoying the benefits of physical activity.

According to the latest county health rankings gathered by the MCHD, 94 percent of Macomb County residents have access to physical activity opportunities.

While Macomb County is home to the Macomb Orchard Trail, three Huron-Clinton Metroparks, one state park, and dozens of municipal parks and recreation centers, more than 25 percent of residents reported no leisure-time physical activity in the past year. In addition, more than 50 percent of deaths in Macomb County are related to four chronic conditions that are often caused by preventable health behaviors, including lack of physical activity.

“Our community health assessment in 2015 not only identified that chronic disease was a concern for our residents, but also indicated that residents wanted to know more about physical activity resources in the county,” said William Ridella, director and health officer at the MCHD.

The health assessment, as well as the subsequent community health improvement plan, inspired Ridella’s department to launch the Move More Macomb campaign and website, movemoremacomb.org. The Move More Macomb campaign is focused on increasing physical activity in residents.

Ridella said that regular physical activity can improve a person’s health and reduce the risks of developing a chronic disease.

The website lists physical activity opportunities for all fitness levels, ages and costs.

Movemoremacomb.org is a central resource that anyone can utilize to find opportunities for physical activity in Macomb County,” Ridella said.

Move More Macomb also answers questions about physical activity: what it is, when you need it, why you need it, where to go to be active and how to get started. The website features links to parks and trails, adaptive recreation opportunities, educational and fitness classes, recreation and senior centers, sports, walk/run/bike groups, worksite wellness information and an attractions map.

State Rep. Steve Marino, R-Harrison Township, is focusing on local park improvement efforts.   Last week, Marino voted in favor of a plan to improve Waterfront Park in Harrison Township and to add acreage to two other Clinton Township parks.

House Bill 4244, approved by the House of Representatives, includes $156,000 to remove an existing seawall at Waterfront Park on Jefferson Avenue in Harrison Township and replace it with a stone breakwater and marsh. The project will also include the addition of recreation amenities, including a kayak launch, a boardwalk and educational exhibits.

“You can’t define ‘summer’ in Macomb County without talking about Lake St. Clair,” said Marino. “I am excited to see one of our waterfront parks receive updates that will make it accessible for even more residents to enjoy a greater range of summer activities. If escaping this winter’s bitter cold doesn’t have you already wishing for summer, this project is certainly one more reason to look forward to it.”

The plan also includes $421,000 for the acquisition of two separate parcels of land that are part of longer-term plans to expand and enhance Clinton Township parks.

The full plan includes $26 million for 34 recreational development projects and 30 land acquisition projects statewide, including the three Macomb County projects.

Investments outlined in the proposal were recommended by the Natural Resources Trust Fund Board in December. Recommendations are subject to approval by the state Legislature, and a process within the House Appropriations Committee commenced last week.

House Bill 4244 will next advance to the  state Senate for further consideration.

Money in the Natural Resources Trust Fund comes from the development of minerals on state land and is designated on an annual basis in partnership with local governments.

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