Mount Clemens kayak, canoe launch floated in fundraiser

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Amanda Oparka enjoys kayaking down the Clinton River at least five times a year.

It soon will become much easier after the area’s first universally accessible kayak and canoe launch at MacArthur Park, in downtown Mount Clemens, opens in the spring with help of a crowdfunding campaign.

The fundraising goal of the Clinton River Watershed Council is $60,000 in 60 days. The campaign began Nov. 29, and ends Jan. 28, said Oparka, the watershed planner.

Advancing Macomb, a business and community leadership group representing 20 employers, three principal business organizations and the largest higher educational institution in Macomb County, announced Friday they are contributing $10,000 to support the effort.

“In Macomb County, the Clinton River is our ‘Main Stream Main Street,’ ” County Executive Mark Hackel said in a statement. “It’s also the gateway to Lake St. Clair’s boating paradise.”

Oparka of Harrison Township said the Clinton River will be much more accessible to kayakers and other water enthusiasts. The “universal design” is intended for use by all ages and skill levels without the need for adaptions or specialized design.

“It will give me an opportunity to get my kayak in and out of the river easily and safely in a way that was not possible before,” she said.

The Clinton River Watershed Council partnered with the city of Mount Clemens and Macomb County to raise funds to install the launch.

There’s another incentive to reach their goal, Oparka said.

“If we get the $60,000, it will be matched by $50,000 from the Michigan Economic Development corporation and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority,” said Oparka.

The park project will help connect the riverfront and downtown Mt. Clemens, while improving MacArthur Park with updated facilities. There also will be universally accessible restrooms, picnic tables, and kayak storage lockers, among other amenities.

“Adding a universally accessible kayak launch at MacArthur Park will allow users of all abilities the opportunity to experience all that Mount Clemens and the Clinton River have to offer,” Mount Clemens Mayor Barbara Dempsey said in a statement.

MacArthur Park was one of 12 kayak and canoe launch locations identified by the Clinton River Watershed Council through a grant provided by the Coastal Zone Management under CRWC’s WaterTowns program.

The program, which focuses on community-based initiatives to help towns and cities in the watershed make better use of the Clinton River, its tributaries and Lake St. Clair for water-oriented community development. If their funding goal is reached, it will be the first universally accessible launch to be fully funded and installed.

MacArthur Park was one of 12 kayak and canoe launch locations identified by the Clinton River Watershed Council. Other potential universally accessible canoe/kayak launches include:

•Webber Paddling Park, Chesterfield Township

•Tucker Park, Harrison Township

•MacArthur Park, Mount Clemens

•George George Park and Budd Park, Clinton Township

•Clinton River Park South and North, Sterling Heights

•Clinton River Landing, Utica

•Ryan Rd, Shelby Township

•Yates Park and Eagles Landing, Rochester Hills

•Second and Letica, Rochester

Source: Clinton River Watershed Council