Mount Clemens close to getting ‘universal’ recreation

Kayak/canoe launch will be located at MacArthur Park

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 16, 2017

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MOUNT CLEMENS — It will be the first universally accessible kayak and canoe launch on the Clinton River, and it’s coming to Mount Clemens this spring.

Last week, members of Advancing Macomb received a $2,500 donation from AT&T to bring their ambitious crowdfunding campaign to just over $22,000 for the downtown WaterTowns riverfront project.

“In Macomb County, the Clinton River is our ‘Main Stream Main Street,’” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel in a statement.  “It’s also the gateway to Lake St. Clair’s boating paradise.”

Hackel — along with Lori Doughty from AT&T, Amanda Oparka and Anne Vaara from the Clinton River Watershed Council, and Melissa Roy and David Girodat from Advancing Macomb, gathered inside the Macomb — YMCA in Mount Clemens Jan. 6 to announce the most recent donation, and also the status of the crowdfunding campaign as well as the benefits of the launch.

The kayak and canoe launch will be located at MacArthur Park, next to the YMCA on North River Road. The launch’s universal design will make it easy and safe to use for people of all ages and experience levels.

CRWC officials report that improvements that will be made through the project also include kayak storage lockers, enhanced pedestrian connections to the boardwalk, wayfinding and interpretive signing, visible art murals along water routes by local artists, universally accessible restrooms, and picnic tables with charging stations.

MacArthur Park was one of 12 kayak and canoe launch locations identified by the Clinton River Watershed Council through a grant provided by the Coastal Zone Management under the CRWC’s WaterTowns program.

Amenities and enhancements along the water trail will provide opportunities for paddlers to stop and experience destinations that otherwise would be missed.

Mount Clemens Mayor Barb Dempsey said there will also be opportunities for local kayak/canoe vendors to promote themselves and garner business once the project is complete, and even the YMCA would benefit by potentially adding kayaking or canoeing classes.

“And because it’s handicapped accessible, it’s opening up recreation for those who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity,” Dempsey said. “It’s a great thing for Mount Clemens; we have a river that is really beautiful and so underutilized.”

Girodat agreed, and said officials from the CRWC “have unearthed exciting possibilities for the river. 

“Advancing Macomb supports positive and transformative community, economic and natural resource projects,” he said. “This paddling launch in downtown Mount Clemens encompasses all of our principles.”

Other recent Advancing Macomb projects include the Freedom Hill playground enhancement project in September 2014; manufacturing, marketing and business developments that began in February 2015 and are ongoing; and the  Eastside Bike Drive that began in September 2016 and will continue through May 2017.

Oparka, the CRWC’s watershed planner, said the recent contribution from AT&T is a considerable boost to the crowdfunding campaign that started on Nov. 29.

“Making efforts to more fully utilize Macomb’s waterways will undoubtedly attract and promote new and increased activity throughout the community, and that’s great news for everyone,” said Jim Murray, president of AT&T Michigan.

Oparka said it has been slow going, but the launch of the pa tronicity.com page may help them succeed in their endeavor and reach their $60,000 goal before the Jan. 28 deadline.

Patronicity.com allows people and businesses to search for worthwhile civic projects in and around their neighborhoods and then give direct monetary support or sponsorship assistance.

Donations of any amount are accepted. If fundraising goals are met for the new launch, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s Public Spaces Community Places program will match funds up to $50,000.

Online donations can be made at patronicity.com/project/macarthur_park_river_access or by contacting the CRWC at (248) 601-0606.

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