Families kayak and canoe down the Clinton River from Heritage Park to Clinton River Park North Aug. 1.

Families kayak and canoe down the Clinton River from Heritage Park to Clinton River Park North Aug. 1.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Sterling Heights celebrates kayak launch

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 7, 2019

 Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool uses the new EZ Launch Accessible Transfer System at Clinton River Park North.

Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool uses the new EZ Launch Accessible Transfer System at Clinton River Park North.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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STERLING HEIGHTS — A Clinton River docking option with better accommodations for getting in and out of watercraft should make it easier for kayakers and canoers to go with the flow, city officials said.

Sterling Heights now has an EZ Launch Accessible Transfer System dock at Clinton River Park North, located at 8600 Riverland Drive. To celebrate the canoe and kayak launch, Sterling Heights officials held an Aug. 1 ribbon cutting.

City officials said the launch and docking station follows usage guidelines from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and surpasses them.

The city reportedly paid about $84,000 to put two EZ dock launches along the river. The Clinton River Park North one went up last fall, and one was installed in Rotary Park last spring.

Jerry Reis, the owner of Clinton River Canoe & Kayak in Sterling Heights, said the EZ dock makes canoeing and kayaking safer for river users by giving them access to a transfer bench, handrails, slide boards and boat-supporting rollers. These reduce the risk of falling out of the watercraft into the water while entering or exiting.

Reis said that prior to the EZ docks, kayakers used a slippery hill with wood chips at Rotary Park. He praised the new facilities and said there is “no comparison to what we had before.” 

“Older people are having a much easier time,” he said. “They’re working out fine. There has been absolutely no issue with (the launches) as far as the functionality.” 

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said he didn’t know the reason behind the delayed ribbon cutting but speculated that the city wanted to wait until a time of good weather and when people would be paddling. 

He explained how he saw a diverse audience enjoying Sterlingfest, including people with physical disabilities. He said he looks forward to potentially making river access more inclusive with the kayak amenity.

“We have to keep in mind that we have residents of all different abilities and disabilities,” he said. “For us to be able to include everyone ... is really an awesome thing.”

The Clinton River Watershed Council monitors the river and advocates awareness of its importance. In a statement, CRWC Executive Director Anne Brasie said her group’s objective is to make the river a destination spot so that more people will want to preserve it.

“We hope to have at least 12 universally accessible launches on the Clinton and Lake St. Clair,” she said. “With the completion of this launch and other launches that are in the active planning phase, we’re more than halfway there.”

The city also played a role in the Clinton River cleanup that makes paddling possible along the waterway, according to Sterling Heights City Manager Mark Vanderpool. Starting in 2016, the city embarked on a two-year project to restore the river and its wildlife habitats. A $4.5 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant funded the cleanup campaign.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. Learn more about Clinton River Canoe & Kayak in Sterling Heights by visiting www.clintonriverkayak.com or by calling (248) 421-3445.

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