The St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center is located at 20000 Stephens Street, next to the Civic Arena.

The St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center is located at 20000 Stephens Street, next to the Civic Arena.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

St. Clair Shores City Council OKs new Senior Activity Center parking lot

By: Alyssa Ochss | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 8, 2023


ST. CLAIR SHORES — On Oct. 16, the St. Clair Shores City Council voted 6-0 to approve a new parking lot at the Senior Activity Center.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie was excused for the meeting.

Kyle Seidel, of project manager Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick, Inc., presented the item.

St. Clair Shores City Manager Dustin Lent said the project team met with the Senior Advisory Committee and the Senior Center of the Shores Board.

“The biggest take away from this as well is making sure a lot of our seniors do get transportation through the SMART buses and making sure that they’re able to get dropped off in a safe and ADA-accessible manner,” Lent said.

Seidel said because Community Development Block Grant funds will be used, they have to keep the senior center parking lot separate from the Civic Ice Arena parking lot.

“Earlier in 2023, City Council approved $850,000.00 in prior year CDBG street funding and CDBG program income to construct a new parking lot and permanent canopy over the entrance at the Senior Activity Center,” a council communication from the Oct. 16 agenda said.

Seidel said a few of the changes they’re making include moving the driveway approach to the Civic Ice Arena, to the west on Stephens Road. He said as it is now, the traffic goes right to the front door.

“So when you come, almost every car goes right to where everyone’s walking,” Seidel said. “So we’re trying to shift this around.”

They are also planning on installing a 10-foot walking path with amenities such as benches and water fountains, and they are suggesting a new covered canopy, Seidel said.

“The canopy will include outlets for holiday lighting, canopy lights and a bench,” the council’s backup material from Oct. 16 indicated. “The canopy will be constructed of burnished veneer to match the rest of the addition.”

Matthew Hubinsky, the Senior Activity Center coordinator, said the City Council’s approval of the project now means bids could go out in January or February. A contract could be awarded in February, and work could start in the spring and run through the fall. Seidel said they are hoping to award a bid by Feb. 19.

Councilman Chris Vitale had concerns about the width of the entrance and exit of the Civic Center parking. Vitale asked if it was wide enough to accommodate three vehicles and Seidel said it is big enough for two.

“Could we end up with a situation there where when we’ve got kind of a full house for an event at Civic Arena, and we have people that want to turn left, that they’re blocking things up a lot longer than they really should need to?” Vitale said. “Wouldn’t it be better to have a dedicated left (turn lane)?”

Seidel said the approach as it is right now is narrower than the plans.

“And there will be a south exit out to Pleasant (Street) also,” Seidel said. “We could ask our traffic guys in our office to look at that.”

Vitale also said the distance between the driveway and the bridge over Interstate 94 will be shorter “by a good amount.”

“I’d just like to see someone take a look at visibility to see cars on the low end of that bridge in time to be able to make a left turn and everything,” Vitale said.

Seidel said they did look at three options for the concerns Vitale is raising. He said they are recommending not to have a street that goes straight through because of sight distance issues.

“It’s really the staging of where that is because we have an existing parking lot for the civic center with angled parking,” Seidel said. “So naturally you only can come in every other drive lane because people are going to tend to want to drive straight in.”

Councilman Dave Rubello said the walking path is a good addition. He also asked what role Ursuline Street has in the parking lot. Seidel said the entrance to the Senior Activity Center will be on Ursuline. The entrance is 165 feet north of Lawndale Street. The plan took those neighboring the senior center into consideration with regard to headlights and turning, Seidel said.

“We looked at about four or five different options of this parking lot before we got to here with the city manager, and I think he might have shared some of those options with this body,” Seidel said. “But we moved it to the north to help keep it away — one, from Lawndale, and two, from having headlights when you turn shine on someone’s front door.”

Councilman John Caron said he thinks this will be a great addition and appreciates the relocation of funds to have the three new additions.

“We wanted a walking track, but couldn’t fit it inside so at least we’ll have one outside,” Caron said. “They wanted dedicated parking. We couldn’t afford it then, so we’ll be adding that. And also adding the canopy. We took that out in one of the final reviews to do other work in that. That was a big debate at that time and so it’s great that we’re going to be adding that back in.”

Councilman Ron Frederick asked if the canopy would have a slight overhang over the parking lot and Seidel said it will not overhang the drive lane but will probably be offset.

Hubinsky said the project will shorten the walk for seniors and that those at the Senior Activity Center are excited for the project.

“They’re really excited,” Hubinsky said. “They’re excited to have a drop-off area, especially for our buses. We drop off a whole group of people every day either for Silver Sneakers or for the fitness center or to play cards. So it’ll be nice that they can just walk right into the center.”

The St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center is located at 20000 Stephens Street, next to the Civic Arena.