The Tax-Increment Finance Authority is investigating working with a design company to determine improvements to the fishing pier at Blossom Heath Park.

The Tax-Increment Finance Authority is investigating working with a design company to determine improvements to the fishing pier at Blossom Heath Park.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

TIFA looks to redo fishing pier at Blossom Heath Park

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 24, 2020


ST. CLAIR SHORES — High water levels are causing damage to the shoreline along the fishing pier and lagoon at Blossom Heath Park, but the Tax-Increment Finance Authority is looking to work with the city on repairs and enhancements.

TIFA met with Environmental Consulting and Technology Inc., or ECT, July 16 to begin the process of developing plans for redeveloping the area, with the hopes of installing a bridge instead of box culverts at the Coast Guard access road to allow for improved circulation and access by kayaks; beach improvements; the replacement of the seawall; the removal of the police boat house; and the installation of a new activity pier and boat dock.

The city currently has permits from the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and the Environment, or EGLE, to replace the seawall and relocate the boat launch.

Project Director Patrick Judd with ECT said the company is collecting data and that the schematic drawings would be complete in mid-November.

“One of the first things we’re going to start looking at is the seawall, where we have some places that are definitely compromised,” he said. “That will start right away.”

One of the ideas is to install a boardwalk along the north side of the road from the lagoon to the pier to separate the pedestrian, bike and scooter access from vehicle traffic.

“We have a number of safety issues right now,” said St. Clair Shores City Manager Matthew Coppler. “The thought is, we actually can have it over the water. It keeps it out of the road.”

Judd said they’re looking to create more efficient circulation between pedestrians and vehicles from the road to the pier.

“We want people to be able to be dropped off and parked elsewhere,” he said.

Getting the schematics and 3D renderings is just the first step in the project, Coppler said. It will enable TIFA and St. Clair Shores to then get construction estimates to see how much any potential project would cost. The project would likely be paid for with a bond issue, he said, but “let’s say we go through all this and the project is $12 million. Well, we don’t have capacity to do a $12 million project. (If it is) $4-5 million, maybe there’s capacity to do that.”

He said the project doesn’t have to be completed all in one year and, realistically, could take the next three to five years.

“The biggest chunk of that is probably going to be the pier part of it and then looking at what else can be done,” he said. “There may be elements of this plan that make sense to get a grant for.”

The city is drafting an amendment to the TIFA plan to enable the project, which should be completed by the beginning of December. Coppler said the construction document phase of the project would commence after that and it would be the end of January 2021 before the project can be put out to bid.

TIFA members unanimously approved a timeline for the project July 16.