Antoine Waters, of Clinton Township, fishes May 18 at Waterfront Park in Harrison Township.

Antoine Waters, of Clinton Township, fishes May 18 at Waterfront Park in Harrison Township.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Waterfront Park reopens for 2021

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published May 22, 2021

 Breanna Jackson, 17, of Harrison Township, swings with her 10-month-old cousin, Jaden Mitchell, May 18 at Waterfront Park.

Breanna Jackson, 17, of Harrison Township, swings with her 10-month-old cousin, Jaden Mitchell, May 18 at Waterfront Park.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — After being closed for more than a year, Waterfront Park, 34890 Jefferson Ave., has reopened for the 2021 season.

“We’ve had some issues with erosion of the seawall over a period of years, with the last two years having the high-water level,” said Harrison Township Supervisor Ken Verkest.

When waves crest the edge of the seawall, he said the water starts to erode the ground behind the seawall, leading to structural issues. The south end of the park had been blocked off because the boardwalk was unsafe where the seawall had gradually begun to fail.

The township received a $157,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund in May 2019 to soften the shoreline of the park, with matching funds of $104,000 required from Harrison Township. After having an engineer design the project, the township was ready to begin work in the summer of 2020, so it did not open the park for the summer. It hit a snag when the project was put out to bid, however.

“Between the uniqueness of the project and COVID, we didn’t get anyone to bid on the project,” Verkest said.

Township officials considered making temporary repairs to the park and applied for another grant, but they were notified in March 2021 that Harrison Township did not receive the grant.

Now, officials say they’re exploring other options to fix the park.

“With construction the way it is now, we’re not going to be doing anything in 2021 anyway, (so it) makes sense to reopen the park for the 2021 season,” he said.

Cleanup was necessary after the park had been closed; mulch on the playground had been depleted and geese had to be deterred from using the park as they had when it sat empty. Some plumbing and drainage issues also had to be addressed; the boardwalk was secured, and the township Board of Trustees authorized the hiring of up to four employees to open and close Waterfront Park and Tucker Park on a daily basis. Waterfront Park reopened May 10.

“We have two individuals (who) started opening the park Monday, and we’re bringing these guys up to speed,” Verkest said May 11.

The park opens each morning, around 8 a.m., and is available until dusk, except on days when nearby communities host fireworks shows that residents enjoy watching from the park. The parks will remain open until the temperatures drop in the fall, when there is a concern the restroom pipes could freeze.

Verkest said the township is requesting an extension on the grant from the MDNR.

“We’ve gone back to the drawing board,” he said, adding that they are looking for another solution to fix the park’s problems.