Stony Creek Metropark building dog park with grant funding, planning more updates

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 14, 2021

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP/ UTICA — The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is moving forward on proposed projects at Stony Creek Metropark being submitted to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Recreation Grants program, and visitors will soon begin seeing the construction of an off-leash dog park.

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks comprise 13 parks in southeastern Michigan, and park staff is looking to improve their impact on the region using grant funding to supplement the Metroparks’ annual budget. The 2021 grant, if awarded, will allow three Metroparks to improve accessibility to water and trail recreation opportunities, including Stony Creek.

Stony Creek Metropark extends across Oakland and Macomb counties with 4,435 acres used for year-round recreation and education. The proposed projects at Stony Creek Metropark for the 2021 state grant include replacement of three bridges, replacing an existing dock with a shoreline viewing platform, accessible push-button doors at the Nature Center’s entrance, relocation of benches to accessible areas, new landscaping and modifications to the existing trail for accessible slopes and cross-slopes.

A project that is further in development is the Oakgrove off-leash dog park at Stony Creek Metropark. It will be partially funded by a $50,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant. The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is providing in-kind services in the amount of $38,500, and the remaining outlay of $75,007.80 will come from the Metroparks capital project fund. Construction will start later this summer and a recommendation to award a contractor was to go to the authority’s Board of Commissioners at its July 13 meeting, after press time. The project reportedly is ahead of schedule.

The dog park project will include earth excavation, asphalt removal and installation, concrete pavement, installation of a water line and hydrant, parking lot striping, culverts, tree plantings, signage, and site restoration. The project will be constructed at the Oakgrove picnic area at the park.

The off-leash dog area will include fencing for two areas of nearly 3 acres each — for small dogs and all dogs — including utility and entry gates; a 10-foot-wide asphalt path from the parking lot to the bullpen area; a concrete bullpen with a water bottle and pet filling station; benches; a planting bed; dog waste stations; an accessible aggregate surface in each high-traffic area at the turf entry and on each 6-foot-wide path extending into the off-leash areas; an accessible unisex portable toilet placed on concrete outside the bullpen area; and striping and signs for three van-accessible parking spaces.

Public support for pet-friendly amenities was gathered during the public input process for the Stony Creek Metropark master plan adopted in 2016 and in the systemwide five-year community recreation plan adopted in 2017.

The expected completion date of the dog park is August 2022.

Danielle Mauter, the chief of marketing and communications for the authority, said that over the last several years, the Metroparks have created a strategic approach to applying for grants.

“The Metroparks use awarded grant funds to supplement our regular budget, allowing us to accomplish more projects than we may otherwise have been able to. A lot of the grant projects that most people are familiar with are capital projects where the funds are used to build new facilities and amenities, but we do also receive grants that support programming and allow us to offer opportunities such as transportation reimbursement for some school field trips and programs, or free school programs in certain areas. Across the 13-park system, we’ve been awarded more than 25 major grants between 2018 to now, and they total more than $5.6 million in funding that we otherwise would not have had. That is a significant boost to the impact we are able to make in the community,” Mauter said via email.

Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority Director Amy McMillan said the Metroparks grant strategy over the last several years has been crucial to delivering high-quality recreational facilities to the region.

“We are very excited to begin work on upcoming projects that have had strong public support through our grant application processes, such as the projects taking place at Stony Creek Metropark. We take a systematic look at all our parks and our budget when determining which capital projects to seek grant funds for, and staff have worked hard to leverage those grant opportunities in ways that best complement our goals and existing resources,” she said in an email.

McMillan said the Metroparks are focused on improving accessibility in all of the parks and removing barriers to access. That is why upcoming projects, such as the off-leash dog area at Stony Creek Metropark, have been designed to incorporate accessible features that allow all park visitors “to have a great experience,” she said.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant programs solicit applications every year.

The public can review the projects, including conceptual plans, through the Metroparks website at www.metroparks.com/DNRgrants.

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