A sign announcing park hours stands at Puffin Park in Sterling Heights. The park could get some new amenities if a proposed residential development and related approvals work out.

A sign announcing park hours stands at Puffin Park in Sterling Heights. The park could get some new amenities if a proposed residential development and related approvals work out.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Playscape, pavilion, pathways could come to Puffin Park

Changes possible through city’s agreement with home developer

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 17, 2020


STERLING HEIGHTS — Puffin Park could eventually gain some new pathways and amenities as part of a development plan the Sterling Heights City Council recently passed, but more must happen before those changes become a reality.

The council unanimously passed a development agreement between the city and Clearview Homes LLC at a Dec. 1 council meeting. The development agreement aligns with Clearview Homes’ aspirations to put 36 single-family condo units where Warner Elementary School used to be.

While the city approved that development agreement Dec. 1, it hasn’t approved Clearview’s actual residential development plans yet, which still need to get through the Planning Commission process.

Sterling Heights officials say the proposed home development site is about 10 acres and is located south of 15 Mile, north of South Nelson Park. The proposed site is also to the west of Puffin Park, which is located on the south side of 15 Mile. In a city document, city officials call Puffin Park a 4-acre, “undeveloped public park that is dedicated to passive recreational uses.”

According to Sterling Heights City Planner Chris McLeod, Clearview, under the agreement, would transfer 24,470 square feet of property — just over half an acre — to the city, a net gain of 13,325 square feet. The other 11,145 square feet would reportedly turn existing park space into roadway, putting a road through the north end of Puffin Park that would reach the proposed neighborhood.

“The road would obviously stay with the city,” McLeod said. “It’d be a public road, so we’re not necessarily losing any property. We’re just transforming how it’s being utilized.”

In addition, city officials said, Clearview has agreed to provide $120,000 for a new pavilion and playscape at Puffin Park. A pathway system would be extended from Puffin Park southward to Koper Drive, and the pathway would be lengthened northward too, McLeod said. Clearview would also assist in making Puffin Park’s pathway loop, he added.

McLeod explained that the council’s approval is only the first step toward making these changes a reality. He explained that the proposed conversion of park space for a street would need further approval at the state and federal levels.

When it was time for the City Council to comment, Councilwoman Maria Schmidt said she thinks it is a “wonderful idea” because it lets the neighborhood access a playground and pavilion without having to cross 15 Mile Road.

Councilman Michael Radtke said he thinks the project is great, in part because “we’re getting more park, and we’re getting a better park.” But he asked if the developer would put up streetlights along the proposed new road through Puffin Park for safety reasons.

“I’m afraid that at night, in a park with no lighting, that situation … could definitely go bad,” Radtke said. “So I’d like to have lighting there, especially at night if kids are playing, if people are messing around at the park, whatever. I just want to make sure no one’s accelerating down that street and running over a child.”

McLeod said it’s uncommon to put a streetlight at a “nonmajor intersection,” but he said he’d discuss it with the developer.

Mayor Michael Taylor called the project “truly a win-win” and thanked the parks department and the city planner for collaborating with Clearview Homes.

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